Wichita The founder of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center was sentenced Monday to three years in federal prison for stealing artifacts that belonged to the institution and NASA.
Rejecting defense pleas for probation, U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten sentenced Max Ary, 56, to concurrent prison terms of three years and ordered restitution, which will be determined later. Ary will be on probation for three years after his release from prison.
Marten said because of Ary's high-profile position as the former head of the museum, the prison sentence needed to have a "deterrence factor" for people who read about the case.
A jury convicted Ary in November on 12 counts, including theft of government property, wire and mail fraud, interstate transport of stolen goods and money laundering.
The judge delayed a final decision on the amount of restitution but indicated earlier in the hearing that Ary might have to pay between $200,000 and $400,000.
Ary remains free for now, and a decision will be made at the forfeiture hearing on whether he can continue to be free during an appeal. A date for the forfeiture hearing has not been set.
Still, Marten imposed a prison sentence that was shorter than even the low end of federal sentencing guidelines, noting that given Ary's age, his ability to make restitution would be diminished the longer he is incarcerated.
Ary and his attorney declined to comment outside the courthouse.