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Archive for Saturday, May 20, 2006

Restitution hearing for Cosmosphere set

May 20, 2006

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— The hearing to determine the amount of restitution that the founder of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center should pay for theft of space artifacts from the Hutchinson museum he headed will be on June 1 before U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten.

Max Ary, 56, was sentenced Monday to three years in federal prison for mail fraud, interstate transportation of stolen property, wire fraud, money laundering and theft of government property. Ary, who remains free on bond, will be on probation for three years after he gets out of prison.

Ary was president and chief executive officer of the Cosmosphere from 1976 until he left in 2002 to become executive director of the Oklahoma City Omniplex.

Items he was convicted of stealing included data recording tape from the Apollo 15 mission, an Air Force One control panel, spacesuit components, a lunar sample bag and personal items carried into space by astronauts.

The amount Ary should pay back is in dispute. Debra Barnett, an assistant U.S. attorney, is seeking more than $200,000 in restitution, while Ary's attorney, Lee Thompson, contends the $52,755 he received from auction sales is the "accurate loss" figure.

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