Cosmosphere founder convicted of stealing, selling artifacts

Wednesday, November 2nd 2005, 6:18 am
By: News On 6

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) A federal jury convicts the former Kansas Cosmosphere chief and orders him to forfeit money he made selling purloined space artifacts.

The jury deliberated less than a day before finding Max Ary guilty Tuesday of 12 counts, including theft of government property, fraud, transporting stolen goods and money laundering. He was acquitted on two counts.

Federal prosecutors wanted Ary to turn over nearly $157,000 they said he earned selling items that belonged to the Hutchinson museum or to NASA. The jury decided he must forfeit $124,000.

Ary spent more than 26 years as director of the Cosmosphere before leaving in 2002. He argued that property from the museum accidentally got mixed in with his own collection of artifacts.

Ary headed the Kirkpatrick Museum at the Omniplex in Oklahoma City before being replaced last month.