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Yahweh's treasurer returned to Miami

Linda Gaines, the No. 2 Yahweh who for years has managed the sect's finances under the name Judith Israel, was flown into Miami on Thursday to face a massive racketeering indictment alleging she was part of a 14-murder conspiracy.

Gaines, 43, the companion of indicted sect leader Yahweh Ben Yahweh, was arrested in Atlanta last week and agreed to be returned to Miami.

Gaines is scheduled to appear this morning in federal court at a preliminary hearing.

Like Yahweh, whose original defense attorney, Ellis Rubin, withdrew from the case Wednesday, Gaines has a new lawyer.

Miami attorney Patricia Williams said Thursday she was hired Tuesday to represent Gaines, who called her from Atlanta.

Williams has ties to Yahweh's new high-profile attorney, former federal judge Alcee Hastings: She represented Hastings during his impeachment proceedings in the Senate. She was also his defense lawyer when he was acquitted of bribery and conspiracy charges in 1983.

The indictment links Gaines to the 1986 firebombing of a Delray Beach neighborhood that injured two children. Prosecutors are accusing a gang of Yahwehs of making the bombs and plotting the quasi-military operation.

Gaines is also linked to the 1986 murders of two tenants who opposed a Yahweh takeover of an Opa-locka apartment complex. Rudy Broussard, 37, and Anthony Brown, 28, were shot to death.

The indictment accuses Gaines, the treasurer of the Yahweh's Temple of Love, as being part of a conspiracy that "retaliated against members of the community who interfered with or obstructed the efforts of the enterprise to collect donations, sell products and acquire property."

Gaines met Yahweh in Orlando in the 1970s and has been his companion since.

She has been in charge of the sect's nonspiritual affairs, including finances and a group publishing house.

A dozen indicted Yahwehs are now being held in Miami. Two others remain out of state and three are at large.

One of the Yahwehs in Miami, Ernest Lee James, was denied bond Thursday by U.S. Magistrate William Turnoff.

The judge ruled James, 39, who's known in the sect as Ahinidad Israel, was a potential threat to the community.

James is accused of throwing the body of a murder victim into the back of his pickup in 1983 and driving it to be dumped. Karate expert Leonard Dupree, 22, who allegedly was beaten to death in the Temple of Love, has never been found.

James also is accused of being one of the Yahwehs who stabbed to death Cecil Branch in 1986 after turning on a TV set at his home to drown out his screams. The Yahwehs tracked down Branch after the 45-year-old victim rebuffed Yahwehs on a donation drive and got into an altercation with a female follower who became hysterical, prosecutor Trudy Novicki said.

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