California Casino Owner, Notorious Mormon Sect Member Joe Kingston Dies from Coronavirus

Posted on: May 27, 2020, 08:18h. 

Last updated on: May 27, 2020, 10:06h.

Joseph Ortell Kingston, co-owner of California’s Lake Elsinore Casino and member of Utah’s controversial Mormon fundamentalist Kingston Group, has died from COVID-19, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Kingston Family Leader Dies
Lake Elsinore Casino co-owner Joseph Kingston was known to have suffered from diabetes and to have been in ill health. (Image: Salt Lake Tribune)

Kingston, 63, was the full brother of Paul E. Kingston, the current leader of the sect, which is also known as the Davis County Cooperative Society, the Latter-Day Church of Christ, or simply “The Order.”

Their father was Ortell Kingston, the founder of the sect, who had 14 wives and claimed a direct bloodline from Jesus Christ.

Secretive Sect

The secretive Kingstons run one of the wealthiest family-run business empires in Utah, with interests in coal mining, restaurant supply, and firearms retail.

The family’s ownership of Lake Elsinore Casino is controversial, and not least because of the family’s contentious practices, such as polygamy, inter-family marriage, and the harsh treatment of family members who try to escape the sect.

One such former member, Mary Ann Kingston, sued The Order in 2003. She had been beaten unconscious when, at 15, she attempted to resist her forthcoming marriage to her uncle.

A current lawsuit brought by a former family member accuses the Kingstons of defrauding federal student aid programs.

Meanwhile, it emerged last year that the Lake Elsinore Casino has been operating under a provisional gaming license for the past two decades, despite a recommendation by regulators it be denied full licensing back in 2008.

Underlying Health Problems

Per recent court documents, Joseph Kingston was known to be suffering from underlying health conditions, including diabetes, a major risk factor for COVID-19. He had been attempting to transfer his 47.5 percent equity in the casino to his second cousin, Chad Benson, citing his own poor health.

But The Salt Lake Tribune reports the share transfer has been impeded by the questions surrounding Lake Elsinore’s licensing. Meanwhile, gaming regulators have asked for more information about Joseph Kingston and his co-owner, Ted Kingston, Benson’s half-brother.

They also want to know about loans issued to the business by lenders with links to The Order. But the Kingstons’ tendency toward secrecy appears to be holding up proceedings.

The group’s caginess is likely because of fear of prosecution for practicing polygamy.

According to court documents related to the student aid fraud case, Joseph Kingston had three wives and 26 children. He was the 14th-most powerful member in the Kingston hierarchy. The sect itself numbers around 3,500 people.