Trial of space museum director begins

Wednesday, October 19th 2005, 6:30 am
By: News On 6

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) Jurors are expected to hear opening arguments today in the federal trial of the man who turned a small-town planetarian into a nationally recognized space museum.

Jury selection began yesterday in the case against Max Ary, the former director of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson.

Prosecutors allege Ary stole items from the collection, but his attorneys contend the items actually belong to Ary.

He has pleaded innocent to allegations that he made profits on a number of artifacts, including ones on loan from NASA. Ary faces 19 federal counts ranging from mail fraud to money laundering.

The 55-year-old ended his 27-year tenure at the museum in May 2002. He later took a job at the Kirkpatrick Science and Air Space Museum at the Omniplex in Oklahoma City, where he was replaced on Monday as executive director.