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Full Coverage: Former museum director Ary indicted for selling Cosmosphere's artifacts

Article Index:

Ary sentenced to three years in prison

May 15, 2006 — Max Ary, former Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center President was sentenced this morning to 36 months in federal prison for his role in stealing and selling space artifacts from the museum, The Hutchinson News reports.

U.S. District Court Judge J. Thomas Marten also ordered an additional supervised release period of 36 months that will follow the prison sentence.

"I think a prison sentence is important in your case," said Judge Marten while delivering his decision, "for people to get the message," The Wichita Eagle reports.

Ary will also pay restitution for the stolen space artifacts, which includes property that belonged to NASA and the Cosmosphere. A hearing to be held within the next month will determine the amount.

Ary, 56, was convicted November 1, 2005, on a dozen federal charges, including three counts each of mail fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property, and two counts each of wire fraud, theft of government property and money laundering.

A routine audit conducted by the Cosmosphere staff in 2003 first found that hundreds of artifacts were missing from the museum's collection, which in turn led to the discovery of the unauthorized sales. Ary maintained he was innocent, testifying that he had made mistakes and confused museum and government property with his own.



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Ary sentence hinges on value of loss

by John Green, The Hutchinson News

May 12, 2006 — A key issue that likely determines whether former Kansas Cosmosphere founder and CEO Max Ary goes to prison for selling stolen NASA and Cosmosphere artifacts centers on the judge's determination on the value of the loss.

Ary, 56, of Edmond, Okla., was convicted Nov. 1, 2005, on a dozen federal charges, including three counts each of mail fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property, and two counts each of wire fraud, theft of government property and money laundering.

His sentencing hearing begins at 8:30 a.m. Monday before U.S. District Court Judge J. Thomas Marten in Wichita.

Court filings by Ary's lawyers that contest a presentence investigation report give some insight into issues the defense likely will raise at Monday's hearing.

Federal sentencing guidelines take into account the type of crime committed and an individual's history of criminal behavior.

Adjustments can be made, depending on aggravating or mitigating factors, which push a case up or down the sentencing grid.

According to the defense filing, prosecutors argue Ary should fall at offense level 22 on the grid, based on the loss to victims being greater than $200,000. That would give Ary a prison sentence ranging from three years, five months to four years, three months.

The defense, however, contends the loss is less than $70,000. That moves Ary to a level 16 and a prison sentence of less than two years. If other defense arguments are accepted, it could move Ary to a level 10, which calls for a six- to 12-month sentence.

It also would move Ary into a different offense "zone," which allows the court to order community or house arrest, rather than prison. The defense indicated in its court filing that it will ask the court to grant Ary probation or house arrest.

The difference in loss estimate by the two sides is based on a number of factors. The defense claims the government included items listed as missing but not specifically linked to Ary's conviction. That includes a number of items, particularly films, Ary claims were his and not property of the Cosmosphere or NASA.

"The United States seems to claim that every space artifact which Mr. Ary ever touched or possessed was the property of the Kansas Cosmosphere..." one document submitted by Ary's attorney, Lee Thompson, states.

Thompson argues that several boxes of Cosmosphere artifacts that Ary took when he moved from Kansas to Oklahoma — an action that resulted in his conviction on interstate transportation — were not lost to the government but were returned.

The defense also contends Ary should not be liable for losses suffered by those who bought items from him at Internet auctions and then turned them over to the government "upon an unsubstantiated claim they belonged to NASA or the Cosmosphere."

The judge can consider "actual loss" or "intended loss" for sentencing purposes.

Prosecutors are unlikely to file any memorandums in the case, said Jim Cross, a spokesman for the office.

"The government will make its arguments in open court at the sentencing hearing," Cross said.

Besides monetary loss, other issues the court can consider are whether the crimes were part of "a sophisticated scheme," whether Ary's actions harmed the museum's reputation and whether it was a "cultural heritage resource." All can increase the potential sentence.

The defense, according to its filing, will ask the court for a downward departure in sentencing because the "crime was nonviolent and neither sophisticated nor complex." Additionally, the defense claims the crimes were "atypical behavior resulting from aggravating circumstances" and that Ary "poses no risk to the community and has a network of supporting friends."

Ary's attorneys cite the more than 100 letters filed with the court in support of Ary and that numerous people, including "former colleagues, astronauts and co-workers" testified to Ary's character at trial.

The letters include one from Ary's most recent employer, the Kirkpatrick Science and Ominplex in Oklahoma City, whose board of trustees president states the board "recommits itself to contract with Mr. Ary to work on projects, exhibit and other activities."

Ary's attorneys also say letters from former astronauts Richard Gordon, Eugene Cernan, Walter Schirra, Thomas Stafford, Alan Bean and James Lovell show support for Ary.

None of the letters has been made public.



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Ary sentencing reset for May 15

by The News staff, The Hutchinson News

February 22, 2006 — A federal judge Tuesday reset sentencing for Max Ary, former CEO of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, for May 15.

Ary was convicted in November on a dozen federal charges related to theft and fraud.

Sentencing was set for 8:30 a.m. that day before Judge J. Thomas Marten, said Ary's attorney, Lee Thompson, Wichita.

While attorneys on either side haven't filed motions seeking departure from federal sentencing guidelines, such submissions likely will be made in a few weeks, Thompson said.

Ary, 55, was convicted in federal court of stealing and selling space artifacts while president and CEO of the Cosmosphere. A federal jury found him guilty Nov. 1 on three counts each of mail fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property, and two counts each of wire fraud, theft of government property and money laundering.

Ary faces up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of mail and wire fraud. The other charges could land him a 10-year stint in prison and a $250,000 fine.



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Astronauts launch Ary aid defense

by Matt McNabb, The Hutchinson News

January 1, 2006 — A jury convicted former Cosmosphere director Max Ary last fall of stealing artifacts from the space museum.

Now, three former astronauts have set up a Web site to pay his legal expenses.

The site, www.maxarydefensefund.com, was established by Thomas Stafford, Eugene Cernan and Wally Schirra. A message on the site says Ary and his wife Jan have incurred more than $500,000 in "legal and other accumulated expenses" and that his planned appeal of the convictions will add to the costs.

A jury also determined that Ary would forfeit $124,140 for his crimes - three counts of mail fraud, three counts of interstate transportation of stolen property, two counts of wire fraud, two counts of theft of government property and two counts of money laundering.

Visitors to the site can either send donations or contact Walter Hammert, an Oklahoma City certified public accountant.

"Gen. (Tom) Stafford, who is a client of mine and one of the astronauts in the state of Oklahoma, was instrumental in concluding that we ought to do this to assist Max," Hammert said.

Hammert also was a member of the board of directors of the Kirkpatrick Science and Air Space Museum at Omniplex, where Ary served as director after leaving the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in 2002.

So far, Stafford, Cernan and Schirra - along with astronauts Alan Bean and [the family of the late] Jim Irwin - have contributed to Ary's defense fund, Hammert said. However, he declined to say how much has been donated.

"We do anticipate additional astronauts will be contributing because we feel very strongly about this down here, and we think it has been a gross miscarriage of justice for the judicial system to do what they have done to Max Ary," Hammert said.

He said that the five contributing astronauts all have given to the Cosmosphere in the past.

"And they all feel very strongly about the backstabbing that your yo-yos up in your area have given to Max Ary. That's my observation," he said. "Anytime you have to go into the courthouse to seek restitution, you've got two strikes against you. So if you people up there think that you're doing wise by what you're doing, there's an awful lot of astronauts that are going to feel to the contrary, and they're lining up."

Hammert said the Cosmosphere could be hurt by Ary's conviction.

"I don't know where this deal will ultimately go, but I suspect that the Hutchinson facility will hear of this for a long time to come," Hammert said.

Through Daniel Bateman, community outreach manager for the Cosmosphere, Executive Director Jeff Ollenburger said he had no comment on the Web site or any of Hammert's statements.

The site also encourages Ary's supporters to write letters to District Judge J. Thomas Marten, and to mail them to Lee Thompson, Ary's attorney, both in Wichita, prior to the scheduled Jan. 19 sentencing hearing.

Ary faces up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine on each count of mail and wire fraud and a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the other charges.



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Jury convicts Ary on 12 counts

by Chris Green, The Hutchinson News

November 2, 2005 — A federal jury found former Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center President Max Ary guilty Tuesday of stealing and selling space artifacts from the museum he co-founded.

After seven hours of deliberations, a jury of nine women and three men convicted Ary of 12 counts of wrongdoing involving artifacts housed at the Cosmosphere during Ary's tenure.

However, jurors acquitted Ary on a charge of interstate transportation of stolen property and a count of money laundering related to Ary's sale of items in a May 2000 auction in California. Ary led the Cosmosphere for more than 26 years before leaving for an Oklahoma City museum in 2002.

The jury did not render a verdict on three charges, which were presented to them as alternatives. Ary, 55, of Edmond, Okla., had pleaded innocent to 19 charges against him and denied all wrongdoing.

A tape recording of the Apollo 15 mission and a signal conditioner both owned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and on loan to the Cosmosphere, were among the items that Ary was convicted of taking and selling for his own benefit.

Later Tuesday afternoon, jurors determined that Ary would forfeit a total of $124,140 for his crimes. Prosecutors had asked that Ary give up a total of around $150,000.

In all, jurors found Ary guilty of three counts of mail fraud, three counts of interstate transportation of stolen property, two counts of wire fraud, two counts of theft of government property and two counts of money laundering.

Ary's sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 19. He faces up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine on each count of mail and wire fraud. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the other charges.

Ary and his attorney, Lee Thompson, declined comment Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters outside the federal courthouse, U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren, who helped prosecute Ary, said he was pleased with the verdict.

According to Melgren, the decision indicated that jurors didn't believe Ary's claims - made in testimony Friday - that he made honest mistakes when he sold Cosmosphere and NASA property.

Ary, who helped drive the Cosmosphere's growth from a small planetarium to a museum with one of the world's most extensive space artifact collections, testified that he accidentally intermingled items from the Cosmosphere with his own collections in 1999, which resulted in him selling some of those items at auction.

Although Ary did a great deal to help preserve space history and promote the state of Kansas during his years with the Cosmosphere, Melgren said he also needed to be held accountable for treating "public" property as his own.

"Only in Hollywood are people all good or all bad," Melgren said of Ary's actions. "We felt he should be held responsible for them."

At the Cosmosphere, Museum President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Ollenburger said he learned about the verdict via a phone call from a NASA investigator in Wichita. Most museum staff members, he said, probably heard the news from television reports.

"I don't take any personal satisfaction out of the verdict," Ollenburger said, although he indicated that he felt a "tremendous sense of relief."

Prior to the verdict, Ary, dressed in a navy jacket with a blue shirt and reddish tie, seemed in good spirits, smiling at family members seated in the audience as he walked into the courtroom on the courthouse's second floor.

After presiding juror Ken Troyer of Lyons presented the verdict to the judge, Ary showed little emotion as an assistant to U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten read it. But Ary looked stunned as he stared down at the table in front of him afterward.

Many of Ary's family members, including his wife, Jan, hugged one another in the hallway after the verdict and did not return for proceedings later in the afternoon.

Ary's trial, which began Oct. 17, featured testimony by three former astronauts - Brig. Gen. Charles Duke Jr. for the prosecution and Lt. Gen. Tom Stafford and Capt. Gene Cernan for the defense.

Cernan is the last man to walk on the moon.

It also included the display of dozens of space artifacts, from boot covers to the control panel of a spacecraft, which prosecutors claimed Ary took from the Cosmosphere or sold.

Ary and other witnesses called by Thompson claimed that Ary had only made mistakes and never intended to hurt the Cosmosphere.

The criminal charges against the former Cosmosphere president resulted from an audit at the Cosmosphere in 2003 that showed that more than 400 artifacts were missing from the Cosmosphere's inventory.

By then, Ary had left the Cosmosphere to become the director of the Kirkpatrick Science and Air Space Museum at Omniplex, a job he held from 2002 until his contract ran out earlier this fall.

Ollenburger said the verdict would bring an end to a two-year saga, during which he said not a day passed that he did not think about Ary and the missing artifacts.

The situation proved "a tremendous drain" of time and energy, he said.

"A two-year story has finally reached an end," said Ollenburger, Ary's one-time protege who became emotional when he testified for the prosecution.

Ollenburger said he had "no idea" when artifacts entered as evidence in the trial would be returned to the Cosmosphere.

Reporter Mary Clarkin contributed to this story.



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Jury starts deliberating in Ary trial

by Chris Green, The Hutchinson News

November 1, 2005 — A federal jury began deciding Monday whether former Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center President Max Ary intentionally stole property from the museum he co-founded or simply made a series of honest mistakes.

The jury, which started deliberations about 2 p.m. Monday, broke for the evening about 5:30 p.m., to return Tuesday morning.

Ary, the Cosmosphere's director for more than 26 years, has pleaded innocent to 19 charges accusing him of stealing artifacts from the museum and selling them for his own benefit. His trial began Oct. 17.

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten led Monday's proceedings by issuing final instructions to the jury, then Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett summarized the prosecution's case against Ary.

Barnett told jurors how Cosmosphere officials discovered that artifacts were missing during a 2003 audit. She also recounted how Ary denied knowing what happened to the items in communications with the museum's leadership.

"The defendant not only knew about those things that were missing, he had something to do with it," Barnett said.

Taking jurors through the indictment count by count, Barnett said Ary sold at least 25 artifacts from the museum's collections in auctions conducted by Superior Galleries of Beverly Hills, Calif., in 2000 and 2001.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration owned two of the pieces sold in those auctions, an on-board tape recording of the Apollo 15 mission and a signal conditioner, according to Barnett. The Cosmosphere owned the others, many of which had been transferred to the Cosmosphere from the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.

Ary conducted his sales without revealing his identity in the auction catalogs, Barnett said, and on at least two occasions misrepresented to officials conducting the auctions where the items came from.

According to Barnett, Ary wrote to Michael Orenstein of Superior in October 2000, telling him that he would be selling items from a variety of sources, including a former astronaut's ex-wife, which Ary said Friday wasn't true.

Barnett said Ary was never authorized to sell Cosmosphere or NASA property and keep the money for himself.

"This property belonged to NASA and the Cosmosphere, and nobody knew it better than the defendant," Barnett said.

Ary also is charged with filing a fraudulent insurance claim for a lost mock-up of an Omega astronaut's watch, which didn't return from an exhibition in the Philippines in 1998.

He also is accused of stealing at least 57 Cosmosphere artifacts found in boxes he allegedly took with him when he moved to Oklahoma City in 2002.

Defense attorney Lee Thompson, however, said prosecutors never proved Ary intended to steal from the Cosmosphere. Witnesses who dealt with Ary over the years found him to be honest and accomplished, Thompson said.

"This case is about what Max intended to do," Thompson said. "It's mind-boggling that there's no evidence of fraud."

Thompson reminded jurors of testimony by defense witnesses who said space artifacts moved frequently between the museum's main locations, its two warehouses and its for-profit subsidiary, in addition to being loaned out to other museums and for use in films such as "Apollo 13."

Working in that hectic environment, Thompson said, it wasn't surprising that Ary - who had a personal artifact collection of his own, defense witnesses testified - could make mistakes managing the museum's artifacts.

Taking the stand in his own defense Friday, Ary said he accidentally intermingled look-alike artifacts he was selling on behalf of the Cosmosphere with items he was selling for himself.

The mistakes came at a time of great personal and professional challenges for Ary in 1999, when Ary helped in the recovery of the Liberty Bell 7 capsule from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, Thompson said.

"It's not impossible and not unusual to have misplaced or confused the two," Thompson said.

Ary and his wife, Jan, also testified items meant for the Cosmosphere's gift store were packed away in boxes and inadvertently moved with the couple to Oklahoma City in 2002, when Ary left the Cosmosphere to become director of the Kirkpatrick Science and Air Space Museum at Omniplex. Ary's contract with the Omniplex expired last month.

However, Barnett questioned whether the types of items found in the boxes would be sold in a gift store.

She also told jurors that Ary had discredited himself by not telling the truth about his artifact sales to others, including museum officials.

"His entire conduct has shown that he is looking out for No. 1," Barnett said. "His word means nothing, not even to him."

Ary faces two counts each of wire fraud and theft of government property, three counts each of mail fraud and money laundering, and four counts of interstate transportation of stolen property. He also faces two counts of mail fraud for honest services and one count of wire fraud for honest services.

Marten's instructions to the jury allow Ary to be convicted of a maximum 14 counts, because two sets of mail fraud and honest services charges and one set of wire fraud and honest services charges cover the same offenses.

If convicted, Ary faces a maximum of 5 years in jail and $250,000 in fines for each wire and mail fraud count, and up to 10 years and $250,000 in fines for each count of theft of government property, interstate transportation of stolen property and money laundering.



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Attorneys to present closing arguments

by Chris Green, The Hutchinson News

October 31, 2005 — Attorneys will present closing statements Monday in the federal criminal trial of former Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center director Max Ary.

Those arguments are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the U.S. District Courthouse in Wichita, 401 North Market.

After that presentation, a 12-member jury will begin deliberating on the charges against Ary, who has pleaded innocent to 19 counts of stealing and selling space artifacts from the space museum he co-founded along with Patty Carey. Carey died in 2003.

During eight days of testimony and evidence, jurors heard prosecutors present evidence that Ary executed a scheme to take property from the Cosmosphere and sell it for his own personal benefit.

Ary's attorney, Lee Thompson, and witnesses for the defense have claimed Ary simply made honest mistakes, which Ary made out in the open, with no intent to cheat or defraud the Cosmosphere.

Ary testified Friday that he accidentally intermingled his own personal space artifact collection with items owned by the Cosmosphere and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Prosecutors have presented evidence and testimony claiming no one ever saw or heard Ary talk about his personal artifact collection or that he intended to sell items for his own benefit through space auctions conducted by Superior Galleries.

A 12-person jury and two alternates will be selected from the group of 14 jurors who have listened to the case since the trial began Oct. 17.

Of the 14 jurors, eight come from Wichita, two from Lyons, two from Park City, one from Inman and one from Derby.

Educators make up the highest percentage of jurors, with three jurors listing their professions as teachers. A fourth juror is a special education paraprofessional.

The jury also includes a Westar employee, a student, an oil refinery worker, an aircraft window manufacturer, a manager-cashier, a medical assistant, a customer service representative, a social worker, a pastor and substance abuse counselor and an insurance sales representative.

Presiding over the case during the trial is U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten, a former McPherson attorney.



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Ary: Artifact sales an error

by Chris Green, The Hutchinson News

October 29, 2005 — Former Kansas Cosmosphere director Max Ary testified Friday that he built up a private space artifact collection through gifts from astronauts, salvaging unwanted items and engaging in undocumented trades of pieces that he had accumulated over the years.

Some of that collection was even incorporated into the Cosmosphere's collection after Ary brought it with him from the Noble Planetarium in Fort Worth, Texas, to Hutchinson in 1976, Ary told jurors in his federal trial.

However, prosecutors questioned whether Ary could prove he owned any space artifacts similar to the ones that were sold and showed that Ary signed the documents releasing Cosmosphere- and NASA-owned artifacts he later sold from the museum's collections.

Taking the stand in his own defense against charges he stole and sold artifacts from the space museum he helped co-found, Ary said he accidentally intermingled look-alike items owned by the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration with his own collection.

Ary has pleaded innocent to 19 charges against him, saying he would never do anything to hurt the Cosmosphere, which he called his "baby."

"At no time ... did I ever intend to cheat or do anything improper with the Cosmosphere," Ary said.

When he began selling off pieces of that collection at space artifact auctions in 1999, 2000 and 2001, the intermingling caused Ary to inadvertently sell pieces that he didn't own through his personal auction house account, he said.

At the same time, some artifacts he said he did own were sold to benefit the Cosmosphere, which reaped nearly $250,000 from artifact sales in 1999 and 2000.

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett questioned whether Ary could show he had a collection at all. Cosmosphere officials who have testified at the trial have said they never heard nor saw the artifact collection Ary claims to have.

She also asked Ary to read the detailed descriptions he wrote for the auction catalog about each artifact he sold, where he summarized its role in space history, including a NASA-owned Apollo 15 mission tape that he sold for his own benefit.

In his write-up, he indicated that the tape was the one actually flown on the spacecraft, with Barnett suggesting that Ary knew a great deal about each item he sold.

Ary said he wrote those descriptions to market items for sale but couldn't necessarily distinguish one tape or film from other similar items in his collections when compiling them for sale.

"I dealt with tens of thousands of flown items," Ary said.

Witnesses for Ary have said he brought items with him or received them from NASA officials and astronauts, some of which Ary said were inventoried into the Cosmosphere's collections by student volunteers.

Ary said that he acquired many artifacts without any documentation because that was how "things happened" at that time.

Barnett then asked Ary if the only proof of ownership he had was his "word."

"That's a good word," said Ary, who indicated that he cared greatly about his reputation.

Ary also testified Friday that astronaut Charlie Duke gave the Cosmosphere a flag for Ary's personal use. He also said that the three boxes of Cosmosphere-owned items that wound up in his Oklahoma City home in 2003 were supposed to be sold in the Cosmosphere's gift store but accidentally moved with him instead.

Ary claimed he had also acquired some items after the Cosmosphere cleaned out a warehouse its artifact stores were being moved out of, literally picking items out of the trash.

He told Barnett that he never picked those items up intending to sell those items, but later sold some for his personal benefit at auctions, including spacesuit components that brought him $8,500.

Ary estimated the he sold $190,000 worth of artifacts in sales during 1999, 2000 and 2001. A NASA investigator testified earlier this week that Ary made $65,000 from selling Cosmosphere and NASA artifacts.

The Cosmosphere president for more than 26 years, Ary indicated that he first made mistakes with the space museum's artifacts in the summer of 1999, when he rushed to put together a slate of artifacts for the Cosmosphere to sell at an October 1999 auction.

At the same time as the sales, Ary said he faced a flurry of events in his personal and professional life - including his role in the recovery of the Liberty Bell 7 capsule and the health of his parents, who died later that year - that left him feeling "burned out."

Ary said he then decided to sell off pieces of his space artifact collection as a gesture to his wife, Jan, that he would spend more time putting his family first.



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Wife says errors led to missing artifacts

by Chris Green, The Hutchinson News

October 28, 2005 — The wife of former Kansas Cosmosphere director Max Ary testified Thursday that her husband "turned green" when Cosmosphere-owned space artifacts turned up in boxes at his Oklahoma City home in November 2003.

Jan Ary, married to Max Ary for 35 years, took the stand in her husband's federal criminal trial Thursday, telling jurors she packed away space artifacts once meant to be sold in the Cosmosphere's gift store into boxes that accidentally traveled with the couple through two moves.

After the boxes were unpacked, her husband looked "physically ill" when a comparison with his copy of the museum's inventory log revealed that the artifacts in the boxes belonged to the Cosmosphere, she said.

Ary had moved to Oklahoma City in 2002 to become director of the Kirkpatrick Science and Air Space Museum at Omniplex, a job he held until his contract ran out in August.

"It was a horrible feeling," Jan Ary said.

Max Ary, 55, has pleaded innocent to 19 charges of stealing and selling artifacts from the Cosmosphere, which he co-founded and led for more than 26 years.

He could take the stand Friday in his own defense, his attorney said Thursday. Testimony is expected to conclude Friday, with closing arguments scheduled for Monday.

Jan Ary also testified that her husband also could have inadvertently mixed items owned by the Cosmosphere and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration with artifacts from his personal collection before a space artifact auction in 1999.

Cosmosphere officials have denied any knowledge of Max Ary's personal artifact collection, but Jan Ary said her husband brought a number of artifacts he acquired from "Houston" with him when he begin working at the Cosmosphere.

Her husband also received gifts from astronaut friends that included Alan Bean, Jim Irwin and Ron Evans, Jan Ary said.

She said that Max Ary, who sold artifacts on both his personal and Cosmosphere auction house account, prepared the items for those sales, laid out in side-by-side piles in his small office, where he often worked.

Her husband, whom she described as "disorganized," never realized his mistakes, Jan Ary said, until after he learned - from former astronaut Capt. Gene Cernan - that he was being investigated for taking artifacts missing from the Cosmosphere.

Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, testified Thursday that he phoned Max Ary after Cosmosphere President Jeff Ollenburger told him, at a Wichita social event, that federal authorities were investigating whether Ary stole and sold artifacts from the Cosmosphere.

"I was livid," Cernan said. "I couldn't understand why there was not a conversation between Jeff Ollenburger and Max Ary before (Ollenburger) went to authorities."

Upon hearing he was being investigated, Ary obtained the services of Wichita attorney Lee Thompson, who's representing him in the trial.

"He didn't know what in the world was going on," Jan Ary said of her husband.

It was Thompson who helped conduct the inventory that showed Cosmosphere items had turned up in Ary's Oklahoma City home. Those three boxes of items were turned in to federal authorities after a search warrant was executed on Ary's home in December 2003.

During a brief cross-examination, Jan Ary also said that she had not seen all of her husband's actions and the he, not she, was the one who was knowledgeable about space artifacts.

Two officials from Ary's employer after he left the Cosmosphere, the Omniplex, also testified in his defense Thursday, along with three former Cosmosphere employees and a Houston aerospace attorney.

Omniplex curator Sue Roesch testified that NASA officials weren't "concerned" when items on loan to the Oklahoma City museum were missing recently.

The museum's present director, Don Otto, said it was not uncommon for museum officials to have personal artifact collections.



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Former astronaut is first witness for Ary

by Chris Green, The Hutchinson News

October 27, 2005 — Several witnesses vouched for the character of former Kansas Cosmosphere director Max Ary on Wednesday, including a former astronaut who said he gave some space artifacts to Ary as gifts.

Retired Lt. Gen. Tom Stafford, who traveled into space during the Apollo and Gemini programs, told a jury in Ary's federal trial that the former Cosmosphere president helped him build up a space museum in Stafford's hometown of Weatherford, Okla.

Stafford gave the first testimony in Ary's defense after prosecutors wrapped up their six-day presentation of testimony and evidence against Ary, who helped co-found the Cosmosphere and lead it for more than 26 years.

The former astronaut said that he knew Ary had a large personal collection of artifacts, including some Stafford gave to Ary. Those items included flown patches that had been attached to a spacesuit.

During questioning from U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren, Stafford indicated that one of the three patches he sent to Ary was supposed to go to the Cosmosphere, but that apparently didn't occur.

Stafford said Ary, who has pleaded innocent to 19 counts of stealing and selling space artifacts from the Cosmosphere, was "completely" trustworthy.

"His reputation was superb because he had helped NASA so many times in the past in telling their story and in the restoration of artifacts," Stafford said.

Six other witnesses joined Stafford in testifying in Ary's defense Wednesday, with testimony at times indicating that Ary was not only honest, but kept his distance from the museum's collections while he busied himself with exhibit design and other big picture matters.

Ary also had been made aware of ways to personally collect artifacts from NASA, one witness, longtime collector Jim Stout, indicated. A former museum volunteer testified that he thought Ary brought personal artifacts with him when he came to run what was then the Hutchinson planetarium in 1976.

Another, former Space Works employee Tim Stoughton, described a hectic mess at the museum's for-profit subsidiary, where workers made molds of and replicated space artifacts on deadlines for Hollywood films such as "Apollo 13."

In the process, tags were separated from the artifacts they were supposed to identify. Artifacts also were shipped to California for filming, Stoughton said, and the studio put its own tags on the items in place of Cosmosphere identifiers.

Ary's defense attorney, Lee Thompson, has suggested that Ary might have accidentally sold Cosmosphere and NASA-owned space artifacts that were left behind, without identifying tags, from Space Works, after the Cosmosphere subsidiary was shut down in 1999.

The prosecution concluded its case Wednesday with the testimony of Special Agent Michael Mataya of the NASA Office of the Inspector General. He told jurors that Ary earned more than $65,000 from the sale of Cosmosphere- and NASA-owned property in 2000 and 2001 space auctions through a personal account.

Mataya explained how he traced the sale of missing artifacts through a California auction house, some of which he recovered from the buyers.

Among the artifacts recovered, which Mataya said he confirmed were owned by the Cosmosphere, were a lunar lens, a photographic timing cable, an Apollo command-module control panel and a space meter.

He also recovered an Apollo 15 mission recording tape - one of two items he said were owned by NASA and sold through Ary's "ARY367" auction account. Mataya also traced the funds paid out to Ary for the artifact sales and confirmed, for all but that one check, that he deposited them in his bank accounts.

He also said that upon searching Ary's then-Oklahoma City home in December 2003, investigators found items at Ary's house that appeared to be Cosmosphere property but couldn't seize them because they weren't listed on a federal search warrant that identified more than 300 artifacts missing from the Cosmosphere.

Thompson challenged Mataya's statement of his qualifications and his dependence on information obtained from the Cosmosphere in preparing the warrant and an attached affidavit.

Mataya identified himself as having "years" of experience examining financial documents in his capacity as a certified public accountant but said in response to questions by Thompson that he had only officially become a CPA a month before the warrant was issued.

Mataya said he did not intend to represent that he had years of experience as a CPA on the affidavit, although he had worked as a public accountant since 2001.

Ary's defense will continue Thursday, with testimony from another former astronaut, retired Capt. Gene Cernan, who was the last man to walk on the moon.

Thompson did not say Wednesday whether Ary will testify before his defense concludes Friday.

Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday, and jurors will be given instructions and begin deliberating on a verdict.



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Defense challenges official's testimony

by Chris Green, The Hutchinson News

October 26, 2005 — A defense attorney for former Kansas Cosmosphere Director Max Ary challenged the testimony of the museum's space artifacts expert during a cross-examination in federal trial proceedings Tuesday.

Ary's attorney, Lee Thompson, quizzed Cosmosphere Vice President of Museum Operations Jim Remar on everything from the extent of his knowledge of the museum's collections and the origins of the items in them to his qualifications and actions as curator.

The Cosmosphere's president and chief executive officer for more than 26 years before leaving in 2002, Ary has pleaded innocent to 19 charges of stealing and selling artifacts from the museum he helped found.

Remar and a former museum curator, Sharon Olson-Womack, also testified Tuesday that Ary maintained almost exclusive control of the museum's collections, hindering the efforts of the museum's curatorial staff to perform their jobs or follow regulations.

The jury also learned from Cosmosphere Finance Director Kent Shank that Ary's compensation dropped from $204,000 to $145,000 in 1998, the year before he allegedly started selling space artifacts at auctions.

Ary's salary ranged from $145,000 to $169,000 during his final four years at the museum, and he lost a bonus when the museum's for-profit subsidiary shut down.

Ary's defense contended that he deferred or turned down compensation to help the museum and was denied retirements funds that he should have been given when he left the museum. Prosecutors disputed that Ary was owed any funds from a "rabbi trust" that required Ary, 55, to work for the museum into his early 60s.

Remar testified Monday that space artifacts sold by Ary through auctions, recovered from his home or found in boxes provided by Ary's attorney were owned by the Cosmosphere or on loan to the museum from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

On Tuesday, Thompson questioned whether documents identifying unique markers on one set of artifacts - spacesuit pressure gauges - were added after the fact to show Cosmosphere ownership.

He also claimed that the Cosmosphere listed items, which Ary sold, as missing from its collection - such as a 70 mm film - when it had no ownership documentation for them.

In one exchange, Thompson questioned Remar about a tape recording of the Apollo 15 mission, owned by NASA, which Ary is accused of removing from the museum's collections without authorization and selling at a 2000 auction conducted by a California company.

Responding to Thompson, Remar said tags on the artifact were found separated from the tape in the museum's storage areas and it was unclear when that might have occurred.

On redirect questions from Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett, Remar read the de-accession document, which Ary signed. The document released the item from the Cosmosphere's collections and it was one of two NASA-owned artifacts that documents indicate Ary released and sold, Remar said.

Remar said that he never sold museum items for his own benefit since joining the museum in 2000. He also said he never had taken Cosmosphere property home to work on, as Ary is alleged to have done.

Remar also said he had viewed auction records that showed that dozens of items that had been accessed into the museum's collections had been sold by Ary at auction.

Thompson had asked Remar about the fact that Remar did not do a complete physical inventory of the Cosmosphere's collections until 2003, despite a new policy adopted in 2000 requiring that.

Under questioning from Barnett, Remar said he never would have started the inventory without direction from Ary and felt hindered from doing his job.

"The defendant controlled everything that happened in the curatorial department," Remar said.

Thompson later asked Remar if he felt like his experience as curator of a "buggy museum" should have trumped Ary's years of experience in the space artifacts field.

Remar responded that Ary knew more about space history but that he knew more about managing collections.

Also testifying Tuesday was former Cosmosphere curator Sharon Olson-Womack, who told jurors that she left the museum because of concerns about how Ary managed the museum's artifact collections.

Olson-Womack, who refused to sign some of the museum's loan agreements because the items couldn't be accounted for, said Ary asked her to change records to show that items previously listed as being on loan from NASA were owned by the Cosmosphere.

She also disagreed with Ary's assertion that artifacts on loan from astronaut Gene Cernan were Cosmosphere property and said she never received a list detailing the ownership of items in Ary's office.



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

No word on whether Ary will testify

by Chris Green, The Hutchinson News

October 26, 2005 — It's unclear whether former Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center President Max Ary will take the stand to defend himself at his federal trial.

Ary's defense against 19 counts that accuse him of stealing and selling artifacts from the Cosmosphere will begin Wednesday after prosecutors rest their case.

Defense attorney Lee Thompson said Tuesday that he plans to call as many as six or seven witnesses, including former astronauts retired Capt. Gene Cernan and retired Lt. Gen. Tom Stafford.

Cernan is the last man to have walked on the moon as part of the Apollo 17 crew. Stafford, an Apollo and Gemini astronaut, was the commander of Apollo 10, the first flight of the lunar module to the moon.

Other witnesses could include former Cosmosphere employees and others who could give background about Ary's personal space artifact collection and the items he brought with him to the Cosmosphere.

Throughout the trial, Cosmosphere officials said they had no knowledge that Ary kept a personal collection and have said there is only one item at the Cosmosphere - blueprints of a V-2 rocket - owned by Ary.

At the end of Tuesday's proceedings, Thompson did not reveal whether Ary himself would testify in the trial. Attorneys discussed the defense and Ary's possible testimony during a conference between attorneys and the judge with the jury out of the courtroom.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett said she suspected the defense might call a number of witnesses to the stand to testify about things Ary had told them.

Barnett asked Judge J. Thomas Marten to prevent witnesses from offering "hearsay statements" as evidence since the prosecution can't call Ary to the stand to verify them.

Marten asked Barnett to bring up those circumstances if they occurred.

He also said he wouldn't be surprised if Ary testified, because Ary would be the only one who could talk about his state of mind regarding the issues at question in the trial in a "compelling way."

Ary's defense is expected to last at least through Friday.



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Jury sees space artifacts in Ary case

by Chris Green, The Hutchinson News

October 25, 2005 — A federal jury saw a handful of the dozens of space artifacts Monday that were allegedly stolen and sold from the Kansas Cosmosphere by its former director, Max Ary.

It was the first extensive look at the artifacts for the jury, after viewing a couple last week that had been seized from Ary's home.

Wearing white gloves and using a magnifying glass on the witness stand, Cosmosphere Vice President of Museum Operations Jim Remar matched the serial and part numbers on at least seven recovered items to artifacts documented as being part of the museum's collection.

Remar testified that because of those matches, he thought the items - allegedly sold at space auctions in 2000 and 2001 on Ary's personal account - were owned by the Cosmosphere.

Ary has pleaded innocent to 19 federal charges of wrongdoing at the museum. The trial will continue Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Wichita.

Some of the items viewed Monday were a lunar lens, a Fisher space pen, a flown Apollo command module control panel, a timing cable, an Apollo 15 in-flight boot and a lunar sample containment bag.

The jury also learned the Cosmosphere owned three boxes of artifacts turned over to authorities on behalf of Ary by his attorney. The defense did not dispute that the Cosmosphere owned the items.

Cosmosphere officials have testified throughout the trial that Ary was never authorized to remove artifacts from the museum's stores or sell museum property for his personal benefit.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Lee Thompson challenged the extent of Remar's knowledge of the museum's collections. He also objected to some of the documents being used to show Cosmosphere ownership, but the objection was overruled.

The prosecution is scheduled to wrap up its case Tuesday. Ary's defense could last until Friday, Thompson said.

Remar, who joined the museum as curator in 2000 and was later director of collections, also matched the unique identifiers on an Apollo 15 mission recording, called a DDR tape, which was owned by National Aeronautics and Space Administration and on loan to the Cosmosphere.

Ary allegedly removed that item from the museum's collections and sold it at a 2000 space auction.

Johnson Space Center exhibits manager Louis Parker said Monday that Ary never had authorization to sell the tape, and NASA received no money from the sale.

Parker also said Ary would not have been allowed to take ownership of artifacts directly from NASA.

On Friday, two Federal Bureau of Investigation special agents testified about the seizure of artifacts from Ary.

In a Dec. 18, 2003 search, authorities seized at least four items bearing Cosmosphere inventory numbers from Ary's then-Oklahoma City home. The items were found in boxes marked with numbers, which ran 1-7 and 11-14. There were no boxes numbered 8, 9 or 10 in Ary's residence.

Five days later Ary's attorney turned in three boxes numbered 8, 9 and 10 to federal authorities. Thompson said the defense would stipulate the Cosmosphere owned the items in those boxes, which numbered around 50.

Remar said Monday he recognized the artifacts in those boxes because he helped Ary move "a large majority" of those items from the museum's safe to its main collections shelves in 2000.

Remar testified that Ary did not know the combination to the safe but did have access to the artifacts on the shelves.

None of the items in the box appeared to be the "junk" that the museum might throw out, Remar said.

Also testifying Monday was former Cosmosphere board president Linda Tegethoff, who said Ary resisted when the board tried to put the "clamps" on his decision-making powers.

" 'I would rather ask for forgiveness than ask for permission,' " Tegethoff said Ary told museum officials.

Parker and his former NASA boss also gave conflicting testimony during the trial's morning session.

Former NASA official Chuck Biggs said he thought that non-working Omega astronaut's watches, which Ary is accused of filing a false insurance claim on and never paying NASA for losing, were not considered to be NASA property.

Parker said NASA had loaned the Cosmosphere four Omega mock-up watches, one of which was lost in the Philippines.

Parker acknowledged that NASA had "admonished" the Cosmosphere to take appropriate care of NASA artifacts in 1996.

However, Parker also expressed admiration for Ary, calling him the "consummate scrounger" and saying that he could trust him.

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett asked Parker if his opinion of Ary would change if the former Cosmosphere president was shown to have converted NASA property for his own benefit.

"It would," Parker said.



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Ary's intent becomes central issue in trial

by Chris Green, The Hutchinson News

October 23, 2005 — Max Ary's intentions - whether he purposely committed wrongful acts in allegedly selling artifacts from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center - are becoming a central point of contention at the former Cosmosphere director's federal trial.

Federal prosecutors called witnesses and presented evidence in a federal trial of the former Cosmosphere director last week to show that Ary stole and sold space artifacts from the institution he helped found.

The government's 19-count indictment also accuses him of filing a false insurance claim for a lost astronaut's watch, money laundering, theft of government property and interstate transportation of stolen property.

Ary has pleaded innocent to the charges against him and denied wrongdoing.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. Monday at the federal courthouse in Wichita. The trial, expected to stretch past this week, will run until 1:30 p.m. daily.

During the trial's first week, defense attorney Lee Thompson didn't spend most of his time contesting the government's documentary evidence showing that artifacts allegedly owned by the Cosmosphere were put up for sale in out-of-state auctions.

Instead, Thompson has focused on Ary's intent, claiming in his opening statement that Ary would have never done anything to "cheat" or "steal" from the Cosmosphere, which Thompson referred to as Ary's "baby."

"What Max did was not the product of a schemer but rather a dreamer," Thompson said during his opening statement. "He never intended to scheme, steal or defraud anyone."

That distinction could be crucial to the 12-person jury - with two alternates - who must decide Ary's guilt or innocence.

To prove that Ary is guilty of the 19 federal charges against him, prosecutors must do more than just document that Ary took or sold artifacts belonging to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or the Cosmosphere.

They must also prove that, in doing so, Ary also: violated federal laws that prevent using the mail or interstate electronic communications for illegal activity; engaged in interstate commerce that allowed him to illegally derive more than $10,000; knowingly converted government property for his own benefit; and transported stolen good worth more than $5,000 across state lines. All of the crimes also must have occurred, at least partially, within Kansas.

Based on the preliminary jury instruction given by U.S. District Court Judge J. Thomas Marten last week, in some cases, prosecutors also must prove that Ary "knowingly" or "willfully" engaged in illegal conduct or schemes to "defraud" or obtain money through misrepresentations for the jury to convict him.

In his opening statement, U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren said the Cosmosphere was a "national treasure." The museum is said to have the second most extensive collection of U.S. space artifacts behind the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum and the biggest collection of Soviet space artifacts outside of Moscow.

"He wanted to collect," space artifacts when no one else did, Thompson said.

"And he brought them back to Hutchinson," Thompson said.

Ary also wasn't a "detail" man, Thompson has claimed, and was saddled with a wide variety of duties at the Cosmosphere that made him a prime fundraiser, exhibit developer, curator and public relations liaison at the same time.

When Ary's life became even more stressful in 1999 with the death of his parents and his involvement in the recovery and restoration of the Liberty Bell 7 space capsule, mistakes begin to happen as Ary tried to simplify his life by selling space artifacts from his personal collection, Thompson said.

When Ary did sell artifacts he believed to be his, he did so at very public auctions that NASA officials were known to watch, Thompson has claimed. And Thompson also has quizzed Cosmosphere officials about whether the restrictions placed on Ary by the board of directors to manage the Cosmosphere's property were unspecific.

Testimony and evidence admitted by prosecutors have painted a different picture of the former director, with witnesses testifying that Ary was knowledgeable about the museum's artifact collections, focused on the details of the museum's operations and didn't reveal the personal artifact collection he now claims to have.

Cosmosphere President Jeff Ollenburger testified Thursday that Ary focused on details down to the light bulb that should be used in an exhibit.

However, prosecutors have yet to present testimony and evidence about why Ary, who made in excess of $100,000 a year during his final years at the Cosmosphere, would steal and sell artifacts, beyond the prospect of monetary gain.

Even Melgren and witnesses for the prosecution have acknowledged Ary's accomplishments during the first week of the trial, with former board chairman Allen Fee calling Ary a "visionary."

"The government's case doesn't make any sense," Thompson said Wednesday.



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Officials unaware of Ary's own collection

by Chris Green, The Hutchinson News

October 22, 2005 — Several Kansas Cosmosphere officials from the past and present testified Friday that they never saw nor knew that former museum director Max Ary possessed a personal space artifact collection he now claims to have confused with the museum's own artifacts.

Two former chairmen of the museum's board of directors, Allen Fee and Russ Reinert, also said at Ary's federal criminal trial in Wichita that the longtime Cosmosphere president never received permission to sell any of the Cosmosphere's property for his own benefit.

Ary, 55, has pleaded innocent to 19 counts of stealing and selling artifacts from the Cosmosphere, the museum he co-founded and helped build into an acclaimed institution with strong ties to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Smithsonian Institution.

Defense attorney Lee Thompson claimed in his opening statement earlier this week that Ary may have accidentally sold Cosmosphere items while offering up some of his own personal belongings for sale in 1999, 2000 and 2001.

Testimony elicited Friday by federal prosecutors appeared to challenge that explanation, with witnesses claiming Ary didn't legitimately acquire any Cosmosphere or NASA-owned space artifacts from the Cosmosphere, astronaut Charles Duke or the Smithsonian that he could have sold.

Ary allegedly sold nearly 40 artifacts belonging to the Cosmosphere or NASA at space auctions conducted by Superior Galleries, a Beverly Hills, Calif., auction house, according to the federal indictment against him. Ary's former executive assistant, Patty Ferguson, former museum Steve Garner and Fee also said that they had no idea, nor heard Ary mention, that he had a collection of artifacts at all.

However, Ferguson told Thompson on cross-examination that she had never seen inside Ary's home office or known that he had received gifts from astronauts.

Fee and Reinert, in responding to questions from Thompson, also said that the museum policies and the contract Ary worked under gave him the freedom to determine what was in the best interests of the Cosmosphere, which included artifact sales that provided a $250,000 profit for the space museum. The jury also heard testimony from Apollo astronaut Brig. Gen. Charles Duke that Ary did not receive a Kansas flag, flown to the moon's surface on Apollo 16 and allegedly sold during a 2001 space auction, from him. Duke said that he had donated 10 small, silk Kansas flags to the Cosmosphere in 1999 and had not passed any of them to Ary as a personal gift. The flags, which had flown with Duke to the surface of the moon on Apollo 16, were estimated to be worth $7,000 each when given, Duke said.

Duke said the flags couldn't have been meant for Ary because he had received a charitable tax deduction for all 10 flags in 1999, and gifts to individuals are not tax-deductible.

Space auction expert Michael Orenstein had testified Thursday that objects flown to the moon are among the most valuable in the space artifact collectibles industry, which had grown "exponentially" since the mid-1970s.

At Ary's request, however, Duke said he did write a letter to the former Cosmosphere chief in late 2003 or early 2004 saying that his understanding was that Ary should have retained control of one of the flags. Duke said he felt "uncomfortable" complying with that request since the flags were "out of control" but did it because Ary was "a good friend."

Ferguson also described how she prepared documents, which Ary later signed, that released artifacts from the museum's collections - through a process called de-accession - for sale at a spring 2000 Superior Galleries space auction. Ary faces charges for selling artifacts at that auction.

Cosmosphere officials have testified at trial that Ary was only allowed to de-accession items that were duplicates, needed to be disposed or were approved for sale. Release of the artifacts needed to be approved by the museum's board of directors, Reinert said.

Ferguson also said that she was later asked by Ary to ship several boxes of items to Superior Galleries from the Cosmosphere. The boxes filled up Ary's van, Ferguson said.

"It wasn't an easy task to get them to shipping and receiving," Ferguson said.

Special Agents Barry Petru and John Sullivan from the Federal Bureau of Investigation also testified about boxes of space artifacts and documents seized from Ary's Oklahoma City home or turned over to authorities by his attorney. Dozens of items, including space artifacts that allegedly belong to the Cosmosphere, were entered into evidence.

The trial will recess for the weekend and resume at 8 a.m. Monday. It will include testimony from Cosmosphere employees Jim Remar and Kent Shank and Johnson Space Center exhibits official Louis Parker. The prosecution could rest its case by Tuesday, U.S. Assistant Attorney Debra Barnett said Friday.



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Additional details surface from e-mails

by Chris Green, The Hutchinson News

October 21, 2005 — Former Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center Director Max Ary disclosed in e-mails that he had taken and sold two space artifacts missing from the museum, the institution's present chief told a federal jury Thursday.

However, under cross-examination by defense attorney Lee Thompson, Cosmosphere President Jeff Ollenburger said he didn't give Ary, whom he considered to be "like a father," a chance to explain why those sales occurred before turning his former boss' e-mails over to federal authorities.

Ary suggested in writing to Ollenburger that there were "about a hundred reasons" why artifacts would be unaccounted for in the Cosmosphere's collection, including because they were used in restoration projects, for films or because of poor bookkeeping.

Ollenburger read and summarized portions of the e-mails, which were entered into evidence at Ary's trial at the U.S. District Courthouse in Wichita.

Ary, 55, has pleaded innocent to 19 charges of stealing and selling artifacts from the museum he co-founded.

Ollenburger had told jurors Wednesday afternoon that he and Ary had exchanged e-mails Nov. 5, 2003, after Ary had learned that he might be investigated for the disappearance of artifacts from the Cosmosphere.

In the e-mails, Ollenbuger said Ary, after looking back through his auction sales list, had conceded that he had sold an Apollo 15 DDR tape owned by NASA in a private space auction.

That discovery prompted Ary to write that he felt "nauseated," Ollenburger said.

Ary also said he didn't "level" with Ollenburger about the location of one of the 10 Kansas flags, which had been flown in space and donated to the museum by astronaut Charlie Duke. Ollenburger, who had asked Ary about the location of both the flag and tape earlier, said Ary's e-mail indicated he had kept one of the flags and sold it. Ary had not acknowledged that in two previous conversations, Ollenburger said.

At one point, Ollenburger said, the tone of the e-mails turned adversarial, with Ary making comments that Ollenburger said he felt "threatened by."

That prompted Ollenburger to send out a letter to Cosmosphere members and stakeholders, informing them that artifacts might have been stolen from the museum.

Former astronaut Gene Cernan, a friend of Ary's and longtime supporter of the museum, initially told Ary that he might be investigated. Ollenburger had told Cernan about that possibility earlier at a social event in Wichita. Cernan and fellow astronaut Tom Stafford are expected to testify in Ary's defense later in the trial.

After consulting with Reno County authorities, Cosmosphere officials already had turned over the results of an internal audit to federal authorities in early November. That audit showed that artifacts missing from the museum's collections were apparently sold at out-of-state space auctions.

Ary, then the director of the Kirkpatrick Science and Air Space Museum in Oklahoma City, said in the Nov. 5, 2003, e-mails that he had consulted with his board of directors and legal representatives about him being investigated.

"If you want the fight, we'll be ready," Ary wrote in the e-mail, Ollenburger said.

Ary also said that the "Cosmosphere's credibility would be right there with me" if his was going to be challenged, Ollenburger said.

Since those e-mails, Ollenburger and Ary have not corresponded, Ollenburger said.

Thompson questioned Ollenburger about why he didn't give Ary, whom he said he respected, a chance to explain what had happened to the missing items.

"He didn't hide it from you on that day at all," Thompson said.

Ollenburger said he didn't feel it would be "appropriate" and his "job" to evaluate the truthfulness of Ary's statements, particularly since Ollenburger said he felt like Ary hadn't been truthful earlier.

In additional testimony, Ollenburger also acknowledged that Ary had at one point given up compensation to boost Ollenburger's salary and deferred a bonus during a difficult stretch for the museum. In his opening statement Wednesday, Thompson had said that Ary had always proven himself to be generous and not greedy.

Also testifying Thursday was Faye Stafford, Tom Stafford's ex-wife, who vouched for Ary's character but said she had never provided artifacts for Ary to sell at auction, a claim Ary had made but retracted in his Nov. 5, 2003 e-mails, Ollenburger had said earlier.

Michael Orenstein, formerly the head of the space memorabilia division of a California auction house called Superior Galleries, also testified Thursday on dozens of documents detailing the dozens of artifacts that Ary sold at Superior space auctions in 1999, 2000 and 2001.

He said that Ary, because of his reputation, could have earned more money from the sales had he listed his name with the items, but he sold them "blind" instead so that purchasers didn't know from whom they were buying.

In response to questions from Thompson, Orenstein said that it was extremely rare for someone to sell space artifacts under their name and that the Cosmosphere didn't even do it.



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Successor to Max Ary testifies at his trial

by Chris Green, The Hutchinson News

October 20, 2005 — Kansas Cosmosphere President Jeff Ollenburger says he considered Max Ary to be his mentor and friend.

After all, Ollenburger said, Ary had groomed him to be the space center's director after Ary's surprise announcement that he was leaving the museum in 2002.

That made it especially difficult, Ollenburger told a jury at Wichita's federal courthouse Wednesday, when museum staff members trying to track down space artifacts missing from the museum's inventory uncovered evidence that Ary had taken and sold items from the museum for his own personal gain.

Ollenburger, the man Ary himself anointed as his successor, testified as the government's first witness in Ary's federal criminal trial Wednesday.

Ary, 55, has pleaded innocent to 19 charges related to allegations that he stole and sold artifacts from the Cosmosphere, which he co-founded in 1976 and helped build into one of the nation's most renowned space museums.

"There was no one I respected more on the earth," Ollenburger said of Ary as he broke down in tears on the witness stand.

Testimony from Ollenburger and exhibits entered in evidence by the prosecution created a picture of Ary that had him talking publicly about the importance of preserving historical space artifacts while selling and trading items belonging to the Cosmosphere and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration behind the scenes.

Ollenburger, who testified for about three hours Wednesday, has not been cross-examined by defense attorney Lee Thompson. Ollenburger will take the stand again Thursday for what U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren said would be another 30 to 45 minutes of testimony.

Responding to questions from Melgren, Ollenburger said Ary had been a vocal proponent of keeping valuable space artifacts in the hands of public institutions and out of the private collecting market.

At a 1999 meeting in Washington, D.C., Ollenburger said Ary shared the concerns of NASA officials distressed by the sale of a valuable space suit cover layer once worn by astronaut Neil Armstrong at a private auction.

Ary also led the museum in instituting a collections management policy in 2000 designed to require museum employees to disclose whether they had private collections and to prevent them from competing with the museum's collections efforts.

Ollenburger said he later learned that the space suit cover layer purchased at the auction once had belonged to the Cosmosphere before Ary traded it in 1991 to the private collector who eventually sold it.

He also said that he and other museum officials had no knowledge that Ary ever had his own private artifact collection and neither knew nor approved of his selling artifacts that apparently belonged to the museum in space auctions in 1999, 2000 and 2001 through a personal auction house account.

Two of those auction sales occurred after the museum had instituted the collections management policy in the summer of 2000. Ary never disclosed the sales to the museum or the existence of any collection he might have had to museum officials, Ollenbuger said.

After Ollenbuger was asked to renew several agreements with NASA in the spring of 2003, Ollenburger said he contacted Ary several times with questions about items that were missing from the museum's collections.

Ary had left the Cosmosphere nearly a year earlier and had become director of the Kirkpatrick Science and Air Space Museum at Omniplex in Oklahoma City, a job he held until Monday.

Of particular interest, Ollenburger said, was a flown recording of the Apollo 15 mission, called a DDR tape, that was owned by NASA and on loan to the Cosmosphere. Museum officials became alarmed when they discovered from auction results that the tape had been sold to a private collector.

When asked about the sale of the tape, Ary indicated he knew nothing of its disappearance, Ollenburger said.

After museum officials learned the Cosmosphere had garnered no money from the tape's sale, they were able to obtain a sales receipt showing that Ary had sold the tape and dozens of other items owned by the Cosmosphere and NASA through his private auction house account.

Prior to Ollenburger's testimony, the prosecution and defense gave their opening statements.

Melgren told jurors that evidence would show that Ary "came to regard the (museum's) collection as his own."

He also indicated that prosecutors would use the Cosmosphere's records to show that Ary stole items from his employer and NASA and sold them as his own.

"This is really not a complicated case," Melgren said.

While casting doubt on the accuracy of Cosmosphere records, Thompson also said Ary might have made some mistakes in handling the museum's collections but wasn't a "thief" or a "cheat."

Instead, Thompson said Ary was focused on his dream of building a world-class space museum on the central Kansas prairie and wasn't a "detail" person.

"He never intended to cheat or steal from his baby," Thompson said. "He was a dreamer. He wasn't a schemer."



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Arguments set to begin in Ary case

by Chris Green, The Hutchinson News

October 19, 2005 — The prosecution and defense will present their opening statements Wednesday in the federal criminal trial of former Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center Director Max Ary.

A jury selected during four hours of proceedings Tuesday also will begin hearing testimony from witnesses, including the man who replaced Ary as Cosmosphere director, Jeff Ollenburger. The trial, before U.S. District Court Judge J. Thomas Marten, is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Wichita.

Initial arguments could last up to 45 minutes for the prosecution and in excess of an hour for the defense, according to attorneys.

Ary, 55, faces a 19-count indictment that accuses him of stealing and selling artifacts from the museum he co-founded. The museum's chief for more than 26 years before leaving in 2002, Ary has pleaded innocent to the criminal charges against him.

The jury who'll hear the government's case against Ary on Wednesday consists of 10 women and four men. Twelve of those jurors will be responsible for deciding Ary's fate, while two others will serve as alternates during the trial, which is expected to last two weeks. All 14 jurors will hear testimony and evidence until alternates are selected prior to the start of deliberations.

During questioning from Marten and prosecution and defense attorneys, jury candidates responded to questions about their jobs, who they knew associated with the case and their ability to decide the case based only on the evidence presented in court.

On several occasions, defense attorney Lee Thompson asked prospective jurors whether they had made "mistakes" in their jobs, adding the mistakes were "human."

Afterward, the jury was chosen during a recess late Tuesday afternoon, when attorneys on both sides had the opportunity to strike prospective jurors from the pool.

A number of current and former Cosmosphere officials are on the prosecution's witness list, which was revealed Tuesday.

Those officials include employees Jim Remar, Patty Ferguson and Kent Shank, as well as former museum curators Sharon Womack and Steve Garner. Former Cosmosphere board members Allen Fee and Russ Reinert also are on the list.

Ollenburger is expected to give extensive testimony Wednesday, to the extent that U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren asked that Ollenburger remain in the courtroom to elaborate on museum policies and procedure after his testimony initially concludes.

Thompson opposed that request.

"Mr. Ollenburger is going to be a person who is very accusatory towards Mr. Ary," Thompson said.

Marten said the trial would begin at 8 a.m. and run to 1:30 p.m. each day, with two brief recesses throughout the day.



Cosmosphere artifacts in Ary's boxes

September 16, 2005 — Hundreds of pages of Kansas Cosmosphere records, obtained through the Kansas Open Records Act by The Hutchinson News, indicate at least 22 artifacts turned in to authorities by former Cosmosphere President Max Ary's attorney were owned by the museum.

The items, which ranged from astronaut autographed memorabilia to small pieces of air and spacecraft, were purchased for the Cosmosphere between 1993 and 2000 from Superior Stamp & Coin of Beverly Hills, CA using museum funds, reported Hutchinson News' reporter Chris Green in the September 11th issue of the Kansas paper.

The items were shipped to the Kansas Cosmosphere upon purchase, and records do not indicate any officials authorized the release of any of the artifacts, valued at more than $13,000, from the museum's collections. Ary himself purchased 18 of the 22 missing space artifacts, according to copies of auction house invoices sent to the Cosmosphere.

Museum records obtained by The News also show that the "Kansas Cosmosphere" is listed as the ownership entity on record for another 25 items found in the boxes. Those items were acquired through surplus or individual purchases.

According to court documents, the artifacts were among three boxes of space-related items given to investigators in connection with a 19-count federal indictment released in May. Ary has pleaded innocent to all charges against him and is scheduled to face trial beginning October 18.



Affidavit: Ary moved items from safes

June 25, 2005 — Recent unsealed court documents add details to the 19-count indictment filed against Max Ary, former director of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, reports Chris Green with The Hutchinson News.

An affidavit in support of a search warrant filed nearly two years ago by NASA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) special agent Michael Mataya alleges:
  • Ary requested in May or June 2000 that certain artifacts be removed from two safes inside the Cosmosphere. Ary did not have access to these safes and ordered that the items be moved to a main storage area to which he had full access. Mataya states that logs showed Ary entering the storage units, including after business hours.

  • Jeff Ollenburger, current Cosmosphere President, questioned Ary in an e-mail about his sale of a NASA-owned artifact - an Apollo 15 data recorder reproducer tape - through an auction organized by Superior Galleries. Ary replied, stating "that he did not recall the DDR tape until he looked through his own files and found that the DDR tape was on one of his sale lists," Mataya writes.

  • Museum staff found documentation they think shows Ary trading numerous artifacts with known and unknown individuals through unauthorized transactions.
In the affidavit, Mataya alleges that Ary maintained "almost exclusive control" over all of the artifacts at the Cosmosphere and that the museum's board of directors allowed Ary to conduct business on its behalf "without significant oversight."

The affidavit was sealed until June 23 at the request of the government, which wanted the record closed to the public because of media interest and the possibility that disclosure would hinder the recovery of stolen artifacts, court records show. It was unsealed at the request of the U.S. Attorney's office in Western Oklahoma.

"We've been trying to get that unsealed for quite some time," Ary's attorney, Lee Thompson told Green. "That will be used as a basis for motions to suppress evidence, I'm sure."



Missing artifacts total more than 400

May 14, 2005 — When the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center first reported artifacts missing from their collection in late 2003, the items were said to number more than 100. In fact, federal investigators searched for more than 400 pieces of space memorabilia after an internal audit failed to locate them, writes Chris Green in the May 13 issue of The Hutchinson News.

The increase in missing artifacts was revealed last week among documents filed by attorney Lee Thompson to obtain more information about the charges against Max Ary, who faces a 19-count federal indictment for stealing and selling artifacts from the museum.

Ary pleaded innocent to an original 11 counts against him and has yet to respond to the superseding eight charges.

The more than 400 missing artifacts were listed in a December 2003 search warrant served on a safe deposit box in an Oklahoma City bank. Cosmosphere President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Ollenburger described to Green the warrant's contents as being "accurate."

Ary is only charged with having allegedly stolen and/or sold about 120 Cosmosphere-owned or cared for items. About 55 of those were discovered in Ary's home during the execution of the December 2003 warrant.

The warrant identifies nearly 100 items that were sold through Ary's personal account with Superior Galleries, only about a third of which are specifically named in the indictment.

The court documents do not explain the fate of close to 300 of the Cosmosphere's items. Ollenburger said it was too soon to say if those items were lost for good.

"It's too early to answer that question," Ollenburger told The Hutchinson News. "We'll just have to see where this process takes us."

What follows is a list of artifacts that were identified as missing from the Kansas Cosmosphere in a December 2003 search warrant. It is presented here as transcribed from a copy of the warrant. Due to the condition of the document, it is possible that errors were introduced as it was transcribed.

Item Description Part Number Serial Number
Main Hatch Latch V36-553010-21
Main Hatch Latch V36-553010-32
Main Hatch Swing Assembly V36-591122
Main Hatch Pressure Dump Assembly V36-591062-3 306908
Main Hatch Pressure Dump Assembly V36-59106162-3 306908
3 each Urine Hoses A10694-1
4 each Communication Control Unit Adapters V36-715103-11
3 each Flown Apollo 9 16MM Camera Mounts V36-752028
Machined Parts (Unknown, Possibly Main Hatch)
2 each [indiscernible] Filters 14116-501 102661000094
Fecal Management Subsystem CL-501000 001-F
Urine Collection/Sampling System 24-0105
Collins' In-Flight Coveralls Boot Assembly 8N-1062-801 113
Apollo Helmet Neck Ring A6L-101038-12 1146
Conrad Glove Molds T1594-01/02 A205
5 each Food Samples N-P-73
FDAI Flight Director Altitude Indicator
FDAI Flight Director Altitude Indicator
AGC DSKY Assembly 200395071 RAY20
Flown Apollo 14 Ring Set V36-000002-141 VCA4948
Knife EC-30045
Communication Control Unit V36-7130031 06352AAG4729
Defecation Collection Device V36-JS501-397 2302
Main Hatch Cylinder V36-000002-901 101060000199
Strap Assembly V36-000002-131 109
Sensors MSC BM 01 001, 005, 007
Bio-Belt Assembly SEC13100148-301 1068
Flown Apollo 7 Communication Control Unit Head V36-715100-21 0632AAG4505
4 each In-Flight Restrainer Straps V36-7558870 4835
Flown Apollo 12 SCT Cover 2012797-021A 010
Flown Apollo 10 L/H Cartridge ME453-0005-0093 100020127
Flown Skylab 2 Harness Assembly SHC42100150203 1032
Urine Receive Assembly 14-02051 3724
Flown Barometric Pressure Transducer ME-449-0055-1001 100 950 80492A
Flown Apollo 14 Panel Assembly S/C 110 V36-332502-101
Flown Apollo 13 Panel Electrical ME-181-0171-0003 102641300304
Flown Skylab Biomedical Harness Assembly SHC42100150-203 1045
Flown Apollo 13 Transducer Cabin Pressure ME 449-0045-0021 04400005002
Electrical Cable V36-421649-21 06362AA16937
Flown Apollo 13 Electrical Panel ME181-0169-0003 102641400327
Flown Apollo 13 Hose V36-610221-289 C/M 109
Harness Assembly SHC42100150-203 1045
3 each Flown Apollo 10 Explosive Bolts S/C 106
4 each Apollo 7 Explosive Bolts V16-326318
6 each Flown Apollo 14 Ring V36-316374 06362PAA9389
Hose Assembly, Urine Collection and Transfer 14-0211-01 4176
Food Space
Trouser Assembly of In-Flight Coveralls SEB13100062-716 1166
In-flight Shirt Assembly BW-2087-001 1015, 1002
Flown Skylab 3 Urine Inlet Receptacle 14-02051 3724
Boot Assembly, In-Flight Coverall SEB13100062-717 1166
Flown Skylab 3 Bag S/C 117
Flown Skylab 4 R/H Heel Restraint BW-1053-002 1157
Apollo 10 Probe Stowage Strap V36-601389-41 06362AAH6741
Flown Skylab 3 Urine Bladder Assembly 1895300-503E 00312
Flown Skylab 2 Biomedical Harness Assembly SHC43100149-203 1046
Flown Apollo 12 Fixed Memory Module 80 2003972-1141 Ray 360
Flown Apollo 12 Fixed Memory Module 85 2003972-1131 Ray 359
Flown Skylab 4 Communication Control Unit, Control Head V56-715100 06362AAJ9354
Flown Apollo 17 Unipod Pole Assembly V36-756118-21 06362AAJ7259
Ariel Satellite Model M 3/4
Black Box Inverter RMR 7361 57
Flood light Model 2910 36
10 each UTS Cuff 14-362-1 6309
Valve, oxygen inflow regulator (LM)
Indicator, Gimbal position and fuel pressure JG261G1 10028DAJ1011
Controller, attitude OCG146G2 10028DAK1041
Flown Apollo 17 Glove Bladder A7LB1C3029-03/04 576
2 each Glove Bladders, Right A7LB-1C3029-04 265, 333
Glove Bladder A7LB-1C3029-03 243
Pressure Boot Assembly w/o Cover Layer A7L106021-01/02 16
Pressure Boot Assembly w/o Cover Layer A7L106021-15/16 502
Pressure Boot Assembly w/o Cover Layer A7L106022-17/18 519
Pressure Boot Assembly w/o Cover Layer A7LB-106061-05P6 340
Radiation Survey Meter RFB-OP-4-2-003 009, 018
SMS Cap
Skylab SMS Cap
Spring Scale Assembly SEB39104275-303 1005
16 each Document Bags with Dispenser 11306-EM-030-00 1011
IV Gloves A7LB-103010-06 354
IV Gloves (Mattingly) A7LB-103011-04 319
Helmet Neck Ring (Blue) A6L-10202B-01 174
Film Cassettes 173155G2 D46, D71
Flown Apollo 16 Scissors w/Strap SDB42100059-202 1033
Bio Medical Instrument Assy w/Data Pack SEB42100083-306 020
C.M. Instrument V36-767343 10166FCA0160
Scott's Coverall Trousers BW-1061-002 1103
Flown Apollo 17 Decon Lunar Sample Bag V36-601506 06362AAJ8451
Bio Belt Assembly SEB13100084-204 1529, 1530, 1531
Headrest pad assembly BW-1052-001 1040, 1041, 1042
Flown Apollo 9 Sanitation Supply Locker V36-601421 06362AAH4082
Fecal containment subsystem assembly w/ointment A6L-501000-03 1015
Flown Apollo 8 Flight Data File, Entry Checklist SKB32100024-301 1002
Flight Direction Attitude Indicator M5J7XA7-450012 10028DAN1003
Flown Skylab Electrical Harness 94000095200-049 153
Flown Apollo 16 Lens Assembly, Sextant 2012790-011AKIC 2019
A6L Pressure Garment with Gloves and Neck Rings A6L-100000-01 004
Glove, A7L Prototype (Gordon) A7L-103000-02 055
In-flight Coverall Set, Trousers and Jacket BW-1047-01
BW-1047-02
2012
In-flight Coverall Set, Trousers and Jacket BW-1047-01
BW-1047-02
2027
In-flight Jacket BW-1047-01 2006
Set of Tape Samples of ALSEP data printouts
Vanilla Crispy Bars 1627-5
49 each Vanilla Crispy Bars 1627-8
78 each Raspberry Crispy Bars 1627-9
STS Flight Jacket, Large, Extra Short 10101-20001-04
STS Flight Jacket, Small, Regular 10101-20001-04
STS Flight Jacket, Medium, Short 10101-20001-04
STS Flight Jacket, Extra Large, Short 10101-20001-04
Flight Jacket, STS, Size Medium/Extra Short 10101-20001-04
Flight Jacket, STS, Size Medium/Extra Short 10101-20001-04
10 each STS in-flight Garment Removable Pockets 10101-20001-04
Trousers, STS In-Flight, Size Medium/Regular 10101-20001-04
Trousers, STS In-Flight, Size Extra Large/Extra Large 10101-20001-04
Trousers, STS In-Flight, Size Small/Regular 10101-20001-04
Trousers, STS In-Flight, Size Small/Regular 10101-20001-04
9 each Medium Size STS In-Flight Sleep Shorts 10101-20001-04
Mount, Camera V36-715247-5 N/A
5 each Apollo COAS Control Knobs 5011066KICS1
Apollo DSKY Memory Modules 2010602-211 RAY30
Glove, LEVA Right Hand Prototype (Gordon) A77IB-103010-06 D02
Flown Gemini 9 Acrylic Heat Shield Plugs
Apollo Tinned Food
Space Station Blueprint (badly faded ink per record)
6 each Patches, KCSC "Liberty Bell Recovery Team" Flown STS-49
Glove Bladder, Shuttle EMU 0106-80616-30 294
13 each Turbine Seals for Shuttle Main Engine RD012206-5
Soviet In-Flight Jacket
Boot, Right, Gemini Spacesuit G8-2C-3A 205-2
Foil, Gold, from Apollo 8 Command Module
Dial from Apollo 11 Command Module
Oleg Makarov Soyuz T-3 Launch Key
Gemini Reaction Control Engine 208915-61 4098775
4 each Skylab Cue Cards
Apollo Memorabilia
Apollo 11 Test Panel Inconel 500 LDW-280-28666-45
Dobrovolsky's Communist Party Card
Flown TM-2 Soviet World Map
Flown 6x4 Silk US Flag from Gemini V
Flown STS-1 US Flag
53 Leaflets of WWII Aerial Propoganda
75 each "Top Gun" Story Boards
3 each Soviet Medallions
Autographed Writings of Star City People
Device, Tether 10M50122-1 1029
Signatures of Slayton, Brand, Cosmonauts on ASTP photo
Cernan Signature on Apollo 10 Launch Photo
Cooper Signature on Portrait Photo
Schirra Signature on Portrait Photo
Scott Signature on Gemini 8 Crew Photo
Scott Signature on Gemini 8 Launch Photo
Scott Signature on Gemini 8 Agena Photo
Schweickart Signature on Earth Obs Photo, Apollo 9
Schweickart Signature on Earth Obs Photo, Apollo 9
Television Camera 1291C601 1
Lamp Assembly (a) lamp unit (b) lamp housing 1118808-1 36
21 plus items of Hindenburg Collection
Soyuz 22 Flown Survival Machete
11 each Newspapers, Yuri Gagarin's Flight
U.S.S. NOA Recovery Cover Autographed by Glenn
Covers, autographed by John Glenn
Full Sheet of the 4c Project Mercury stamps Glenn
Mercury Orbit Chart
Note, Handwritten, Russian, Tsiolkovsky, Autographed
Graf Zeppelin Covering
Doolittle "Dawn to Dusk" Cover
26 each Apollo Covers Autographed by Astronauts
32 each Autographed Covers
Painting by John Bergeron "Coming Home"
Painting by John Bergeron "Out for a Stroll"
5 each Apollo 16 Commemorative Silver Coins 0031, 0068, 0091, 0095, 0096
Personal Hygiene Rucksack Kit No. 2 SJC42100167-302 1015
86 each Crew Patch, Silk-screened, STS-31 528-41560-18
20 each Crew Patch, Silk-screened, STS-49 528-41560-20
9 each Crew Patch, Silk-screened, STS-54 528-41560-21
Orbit Mercury 4 Chart
Mission Plotting Gemini 9 Chart
Flown Gemini 12 Crew Patch
Soyuz Launch Key
J.H. Allen Autographed Photo & Edward Teller Cover
Cross Pointer Indicator, PING Display JG917A1 D-4
Fisher AG7 Space Ballpoint Pen, Data Recording SEB1210051-208 1330
Fisher AG7 Space Ballpoint Pen, Data Recording SEB1210051-208 1345
Photograph, Leonov, Autographed
Autographed Photos of Russian Cosmonauts
Erwin Dohnholf's Original Service Contract
Soviet Launch Crew Armband
Personal Hygiene Kit No. 2 SJC42100167-302 1013
Communications Carrier Assembly EV1/EV, CCA, Snoopy Cap 0110-1001-04 1028
A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes by Robert H. Goddard
Lens for 35 MM Camera SEC33100952-302 1005
Hasselblad Body Camera SEF33101017-301 1006
70MM Hasselblad Camera Body SEC33102115-302 1007S
70MM Camera Body SEF33100040-305 1027
70MM Hasselblad Camera SEB33100081-201 11
35MM Camera 554072, 12213 076139
Lens for 35 MM Camera 120928 130961
Lens for 70MM Camera 553837 4602513
Lens for 35 MM Camera 727001 28424790
Lens for 35 MM Camera 727003 28423328
[indiscernible] Camera 799659 005314
Lens for 35 MM Camera 6453283
Lens for 35 MM Camera SED33102516-301 1001
Purge Valve for Spacesuit A6L-505000-03 183
Purge Valve for Spacesuit A6L-505000-03 156
16MM Magazine Film SEB33100125-209 1514
Lens for 35 MM Camera SED33103313-301 1003
Lens for 35 MM Camera 727009 191193
Lens for 35 MM Camera 1488309
10 each LEH Clear Visors G020-1071-01
Macintosh Laptop Computer with Soft Case SED39123144-301 CK2155083703
Goddard's Rocket Development Book
Flown US Flag, Autographed by Pete Conrad
Apollo Chart Autographed by Tom Stafford
Charles Lindbergh Handbill and Buttons
Handwritten Manuscript of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Lamp Assembly (a) lamp unit (b) lamp housing 1118808-1 36
Apollo ITMG Lower Arm Assembly A7LB-201170-01 DVT-002
Lower Right Arm Spacesuit Pressure Garment Assy
Pocket Flashlight A7L-201044-03 208
10 each Checklist Pocket Scissors A7L-201048-03 007, 044
3 each Utility Pockets A7L-201120-01 070
6 each Asssembly Pockets A7L-201121-03 033
NASA SP-39 Publication re: MR-2 and MR-5 flights
"Mercury Project" by Life Magazine
Cachet Cover Autographed by Lyndon Johnson
5 items, including Space Mission Slide Chart Booklet
70 Plus Color Photos of Aviation
Gemini VIII Commemorative Medallion
Autographed copy of Chuck Yeager's The Right Stuff
Dwight Eisenhower's Letter to George Morris
2 each Cut Signatures of John F. Kennedy
Fokker D-7 piece, Fabric, Wing
Map, Apollo 11, Landing Site, Autograph, Buzz Aldrin
19 items of Apollo 17 Cue Card Set and Maps LM (Cernan)
38 items of Apollo 17 Cue Card Set and Maps CSM (Cernan)
The following items are confirmed as being sold at auctions held by Superior Galleries of Beverly Hills, Calif. between 1999 and 2001.
Apollo 11 Silk Screen
NASA Silk Screen
Apollo 8 Silk Screen
Gene Cernan's ITMG Connector Cover A7L-201109-04 260
Flown Skylab 2 Window Shade V36-770032-11 06362AAJ021
[indiscernible] CO2 Apollo 13 V16-613205-3 06362AAH8721
Flown Sextant Crown Assembly 1021378-021
Flown Apollo 13 Bus Bar Battery Cable (1480A) V36-452265 109
Gemini CO2 Pressure Tank 20505 1058
Lunar Night Lens 103-100 108
Lunar Day Lens 102-100 115
RX-3 Spacesuit Components
Flown Food Items
Single Axis Auto Collimator 1017412 6
Flown Lunar Sample Return Bag V36-788034
Bio Harness Electrode 104220 201
V-2 Rocket Timer
Primate Couch
Air Force One Control Panel
Nose Cone
Flown MA-7 Spacecraft Shingle
Spacesuit Checklist Pockets 318, 326
Hasselblad Film Canister 3310082201 061
Utility Knife
Snoopy Cap 1042
Astronaut Water Gun 14-01310-01 3463
Shuttle IV Foot Restraints
Astro Liquid Cooling Garment Boot Assembly
In-Flight Crew Shirt STS-84, short sleeve
Flown Fisher Space Pen SEB1210005-208 1397
In-Flight Crew Shirt STS-84
LEH Glasses
16mm DAC Film Mag.
Uncut Magazine S Master Roll film Apollo 11
Uncut B/W 70mm Master Mag S Film Apollo 12
70mm B/W Uncut Film Apollo 10
70mm Film Apollo 16
70mm B/W Uncut Film Apollo 10
70mm Film Roll
Flown Kansas Flag signed by Charlie Duke
KCSC-Produced Acrylic from Jim Lovell's Couch
Flown 16mm Film Reel SEB33100279-301 1119
Flown S-1B Engine Indicator S/C 101 693621
Flown Waste Water Dump Valve
Beta Cloth Crew Patch
Flown Dual Percent Gauge Flight 15
Scott's Backup Flight Gloves A7LB103011-08 308
Flown 70 Code Panel Apollo 16/17
Astro Couch Headrest Apollo 10 BW-1052-001 1023
Spacesuit Pressure Gauge 173
Remove Before Flight Tag
AMU Shell
Rendezvous Window Mounting Bracket
Flown Astronaut Heel Restraint 1022
Aft Stowage Container
Apollo 10 Lucite
Pepsi Can
Autographed Photos of John Glenn, Alan Shepard, et al
Autographed Photo of Buzz Aldrin
Spacecraft Survival Radio
Lunar Sample "York Mesh" Bag Cushion
LM Model Transp.
LLTV Presentation Plaque
Flown Heatshield Segment Apollo 10
Beta Cloth Mission Patch, Buzz Aldrin
Flown Robbins Award Tie Clip
Jim Lovell's Autograph
Ron Evan's Autograph on Personal Letterhead
Mission Patch, Harrison Schmitt
Mission Patch, Gene Cernan
Shuttle Engine Injector Plate
Mission Chart, Gene Cernan
Gagarin 30th Anniversary 40mm Medallion
Flown Space Center Houston Flag
Main Hatch Pressure Dump Assembly Vent Handle V36-591121
3 each Flown Apollo 9 16MM Camera Mounts V36-752028
Flown Apollo 14 Timing Cable V36-000002-141
Flown Explosive Cartridge Apollo 14 ME4530050093 100020015CBN
Flown Apollo 16 Transducer V36-000002-171 113
Flown Apollo 12 Glycol Reservoir ME282-0049-0001 004000096121
Flown Skylab 3 Control Panel #201 V56-762201 06362AAJ6168
Rucksack No. 1 SEB40100151-201 1122
Flown Apollo 9 Flight Data File Clip SEB32100094-301 1026
Flown Apollo 10 Sham V36-553019
Flown Apollo 12 Water Shut-off Valve ME284-0154-0041 004000000073
Flown Auxiliary Docking Probe Cable V36-421851 06362AAJ8441
Rotation Controller CG166G4 10028CAK1041
4 each PGA Pressure Gauges A6L-104025-03/04 230
Two-Speed Interval Timer SEB33100092-302 1025
Flown Apollo 15 Garment Boot (Irwin) BW1062-001 1167
Flown Apollo 15 Garment Boot (Scott) BW-1062-001 1103
Bio Harness Electrode 104220 201
Apollo 15 DDR Tape ME4350035
Film Canister 173155G2 015
Stowage Bag V36-601015-201 06362AAH7927
Photographic Spot Meter SEB33100027-201 7
Fisher Space Pen SEB12100051-208 1397
CM Hand Control 1986400-1 1037
29 each Spotmeters SEB 33100104-201 1032, 1038
Purge Valve for Spacesuit A6L-505000-03 141
The following items were loaned for the filming of the 1995 movie Apollo 13 and were never returned.
USVMS Collection Bag E-3456-1 1
Urine Filter Assembly 14-0209 2700
Forward Docking Ring Latch Assembly R36-575402-7 A195
Block; Flight Director Attitude Indicator DVG204F5 100028EAN1015
Communication Control Unit Heads and Cable V36-715100-11 112
Tie Down Strap
Flown Apollo 15 A1 Locker V36-0000002-161 112
Flown Apollo 9 Beta Cloth Duct V36612558-11 104
Electrical Connector Covers 3518101
Flown Skylab 2 Couch Stowage Strap V36-601349 06362AAJB027
Container, Emergency Oxygen Mask V56-601234 06362AAK0063
Rucsack Kit No. 1 SEB40100151-201 1148
Flown Skylab 4 Urine Bladder Container V56-601144-301 06362AAK2163
Flown Skylab 4 GPA Container Bag V56-601010-31 06362AAK0235
Flown Skylab 4 Tie-Down Assembly Strap V36-601389-41 06382AAK0529
Flown Skylab 4 Tie-Down Strap V36-501389-51 06362AAK0581
Skylab 3 Urine Container Hose Bag V56-786513-31 06362AAK1110
Fuel Pressure Indicator JG261G5 10025BAJ1022
Translation Controller
Rotation Controller DCG16602 10028DAK1006
Apollo Helmet Visor
2 each Apollo Helmet Visors A6L-601200
CM Tool "E" V36-601405111 06362AAJ8718
3 each Flown Apollo 9 Headrest Pads BW10521-001 1007, 1008, 1009
Flight Direction Attitude Indicator M5J7XAZ-45DD121A 10028CAN1028
Vacuum Cleaner Blower Assembly V36-612575 AAJ4868
Flown Apollo 10 CCU Cable V56-715-101-31
Flown Apollo 10 CCU Cable V36-715104-81 06362AAH6448
Eye piece storage unit. G & N System 2021382 AC21
STS Flight Jacket, Small, Regular 10101-20001-04
4 each Flown STS In-Flight Removable Pockets 10101-80013-01
Apollo Communications Cable Assembly V36-715104-81 06362AAH5103HRE
Apollo Microdot Communications Cable



Ary indictment adds eight more counts

May 4, 2005 — Former Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center Director Max Ary, who was charged last month with allegedly having stolen artifacts from the Hutchinson space museum and selling some of them, has had eight more counts added in a superceding indictment, bringing the total charges to 19.

The most significant differences with the original 11-count indictment are:
  • Three additional counts of mail fraud in which Ary is charged with using the U.S. Postal system to commit fraud against the Kansas Cosmosphere.

  • Three additional counts of money laundering; Ary is said to have deposited checks into his personal accounts after selling artifacts that belonged to the Cosmosphere.

  • One additional count of interstate transportation of stolen property based on evidence recovered from a 2003 search of Ary's home in Oklahoma City.

  • One additional count that seeks the forfeiture of property involved during the crimes alleged in the money laundering counts.
Ary now faces three counts of wire fraud; two counts of mail fraud; three counts of theft of government property; two counts of mail fraud and denial of honest services; four counts of money laundering; two counts of interstate transportation of stolen property; two forfeiture counts.

If convicted, Ary faces a maximum penalty of up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the wire fraud and mail fraud counts. He faces a maximum penalty of up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine on each count of theft and on each of transportation of properties.

Ary pleaded innocent to an original 11 counts against him and has yet to respond to the superseding eight charges.



Former Cosmosphere director indicted

April 7, 2005 — Max Ary, the former director of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center has been indicted on charges of stealing artifacts from the space flight museum in Hutchinson, Kan., and selling them, according to a press statement released today by the U.S. Justice Department.

In the 11-count indictment, Ary was charged with two counts of wire fraud; three counts of mail fraud; two counts of theft of government property; and three counts of interstate transportation of stolen property. In an 11th count, the government is seeking the forfeiture of any proceeds Ary obtained from the alleged crimes.

"We are prosecuting this case on behalf of NASA and others who have entrusted valuable historical artifacts to the Cosmosphere's keeping," Eric Melgren, U.S. Attorney said. "It is significant to all Americans that the history of this nation's heroic exploration of space be preserved and retold to each new generation, and it is important to the citizens of Kansas that the integrity of one of the state's most valuable educational resources be protected."

Lee Thompson of Wichita, Kansas, one of Ary's attorneys, responded, "Mr. Ary's defense will certainly contend that his actions in dealing with tens of thousands of space items during his tenure at the Cosmosphere complied with the policies of the Cosmosphere's Board of Directors. It is important to remember that Max Ary is presumed to be innocent, and any charges are merely accusations."

Ary was the president and CEO of the Cosmosphere from February 1976 to September 2002. Today, he is director of the Omniplex Science Center in Oklahoma City.

According to the indictment, the Cosmosphere has received on loan artifacts from the American space program provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Smithsonian, the United States Air Force, the National Air and Space Museum and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration through the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

As director, Ary signed loan agreements with NASA accepting responsibility for the safekeeping of the artifacts and acknowledging the conditions of the loan, which prohibited the objects from being sold. The Cosmosphere did not receive title to the artifacts and it could not unilaterally dispose of NASA property without obtaining NASA's prior authorization.

The indictment alleges that Ary:
  • Failed to advise NASA of the loss of an Omega mock-up astronaut's watch valued at $25,000 even after an insurance claim was submitted and a payment was made for the loss. NASA loaned the replica of watches worn by astronauts during space missions to the Cosmosphere, but was not told of the insurance payment and did not receive any of the proceeds. Ary signed documents reporting to NASA that the watch was still in the Cosmosphere's possession.

  • Deposited into his personal accounts more than $35,000 from an auction in 1999 in which he sold items through a California auction house that were listed on the books and records of the Cosmosphere as property of the museum or were loaned to the Cosmosphere by NASA.

  • Deposited more than $45,000 into his personal accounts from an auction in 2000 in which he sold items that were the property of the Cosmosphere.
Ary had no legal authority, the indictment alleges, to sell objects belonging to the museum or to NASA. The list of artifacts Ary is alleged to have sold includes:
  • A nose cone
  • A NASA silk screen
  • A photographic spot meter
  • An RX3 spacesuit component
  • Apollo 8 silk screens
  • An Apollo 11 silk screen
  • A flown Apollo 13 bus bar battery cable
  • A flown sextant crown assembly
  • An in-flight crew shirt
  • An Air Force One control panel
  • A Noun 70 Code panel, loaned to the Cosmosphere by NASA that had been flown in space. It sold for $3,400. On April 4, 2001, Ary signed a report to NASA falsely stating the panel was still in the museum's collection.
  • A flown Apollo 12 water shut-off valve
  • A rotation controller
  • A purge valve for a spacesuit
  • A film canister
  • An Apollo 15 DDR tape that was loaned to the Cosmosphere by NASA. Ary sold the tape for $2,200. Ary later signed documents and submitted them to NASA falsely indicating that the tape was still in the museum's collection.
During the spring of 2003, an internal audit by the Cosmosphere turned up 26 artifacts that had been loaned by NASA to the Cosmosphere and were missing from the collection. The indictment alleges that Ary sold six of them, loaned five of them to others without NASA's permission, and traded seven to other collectors. Other items are missing and unaccounted for.

"We hope to have all the items returned to their rightful place in the Cosmosphere's collection as soon as possible," said current Cosmosphere president and CEO Jeff Ollenburger. "These pieces of international space history belong to the public, and they must be preserved for the benefit of future generations."

If convicted, Ary faces a maximum penalty of up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the wire fraud and mail fraud counts. He faces a maximum penalty of up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine on each count of theft and each count of transportation of stolen properties.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and NASA's Office of Inspector General. As in any criminal case, an indictment merely alleges criminal conduct and the persons charged are presumed not guilty until and unless proven guilty.

"We want to thank our many supporters who are standing beside us during this difficult time," said Ollenburger. "We want to assure everyone that the Cosmosphere remains one of the world's most significant space museums and remains open for visitors."

Disclosure: collectSPACE Editor Robert Pearlman is among the collectors who unknowingly purchased items stolen from the Cosmosphere. In response to a request by NASA, he has surrendered the artifact - an Apollo spacesuit strap-on pocket - to NASA's Inspector General.

A full copy of the indictment in this case is available at: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/ks/press/apr2005/april7b.pdf



The following article first appeared in The Hutchinson News. It is reprinted here with permission.

Gone, but not forgotten

by Chris Green, The Hutchinson News

October 31, 2004 — The waiting wears on Jeff Ollenburger each day.

It's been nearly a year since the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center first announced the disappearance of more than 100 artifacts from its collections.

From inside his expansive office - one he inherited when he took over as Cosmosphere president and CEO two years ago and which he describes as "embarrassing" because of its size - the 33-year-old Ollenburger can't tell much of anything about the case that has dragged on for months longer than he thought it would.

In fact, Ollenburger said he knows little more about what might have happened to the items - and when the mystery of who took them might be solved - than he did 12 months ago.

"There's not a day that goes by that this doesn't cross my mind," Ollenburger said. "Everybody in this facility has had to come to grips with what this means."

Last fall, Cosmosphere officials forwarded the results of an internal audit to federal authorities, detailing the missing items, which included objects such as space gloves, helmets and other gear worn by astronauts. Small tools and hardware from the U.S. Space Program also were missing, including some objects that had flown in space, officials said.

None of the missing items was displayed, but some were on loan from NASA. Most were small items owned by the Cosmosphere outright, officials have said.

At the time of the announcement, Cosmosphere officials said it appeared the items were taken from storage. Some were sold without the permission of the Cosmosphere's Board of Directors, museum officials said, with the Cosmosphere receiving none of the proceeds from the sale.

To date, no arrests have been made and no charges have been filed in the case. The U.S. Attorney's office in Wichita, which was contacted by the Cosmosphere, will not say whether it is investigating the possible theft of the items.

"The U.S. Attorney's office is aware that residents of Hutchinson and friends of the Cosmosphere are concerned about the results of the audit of the museum's collections," spokesman Jim Cross said in a written statement. "If any federal charges are filed in matters relating to the Cosmosphere, the U.S. Attorney's office will make the information public at the appropriate time."

The FBI, which publicly confirmed an inquiry into the missing Cosmosphere artifacts last November, would not say whether it was still looking into the matter.

"We don't really give updates," said Jeff Lanza, spokesman for the FBI's regional office in Kansas City, Mo.

Last spring, Ollenburger acknowledged that some of the missing items had been recovered by investigators, but he would not say how many.

No missing items have been returned to the Cosmosphere, Ollenburger said.

Although little new information about the investigation has surfaced in the past year, Ollenburger said public and media interest in the case remains high.

However, with the inquiry being directed by federal officials, who generally don't comment on the status of investigations, he said he just doesn't have much to share.

"This is out of our hands," Ollenburger said. "It's not our issue to announce."

Point man

A year of waiting, however, hasn't changed Ollenburger's firm belief that authorities will eventually take action on the matter.

In fact, Ollenburger said he'd gladly welcome the point when all details of the case are out in the open.

Ollenburger, who has been serving as the point man for the museum's communications with the public and the media on the matter, said he understands he's been one of the few sources of information available during a largely behind-the-scenes process.

But that role has been a source of stress for him as well, he said.

"The good news is that sometime soon the truth will be brought forward by credible people outside of this organization," Ollenburger said. "It will be a matter of legal record."

Ollenburger said he wouldn't speculate on when authorities might take their findings public. At the time of last year's announcement, Ollenburger suggested that Cosmosphere officials expected word from authorities by mid-January 2004 on possible charges.

But the time that's passed since the November 2003 announcement isn't an indication the issue will simply go away, he said.

"This problem was every bit as, if not more, significant than we originally thought," said Ollenburger, who indicated he's had periodic contact with authorities.

Cosmosphere officials first discovered the museum was missing artifacts around August 2003 after becoming suspicious that some of the museum's items were being sold - in some cases through out-of-state auctions - without the board's permission.

A subsequent audit of the museum's approximately 12,000 artifacts in September 2003 confirmed those concerns, according to previously published reports.

It is not clear when the artifacts disappeared. Ollenburger said he couldn't pinpoint when the artifacts were taken or when the museum's last audit occurred.

Former Cosmosphere President and CEO Max Ary, now executive director of the Kirkpatrick Science and Air Space Museum at Omniplex in Oklahoma City, could not be reached for comment on the disappearances. Ary left the Cosmosphere in August 2002.

Only a small number of the items in the museum's care are displayed. The rest are catalogued and stored at the space museum or its two warehouses on West 2nd Avenue.

Admission to the storage areas that hold artifacts is tightly regulated, with a key and code security system protecting them from unauthorized access.

Just a handful of Cosmosphere employees have entry privileges, and an employee's security code is deleted from the system when he or she leaves, Ollenburger has said.

Ollenburger said that no present Cosmosphere employees are suspected of being involved in taking the missing artifacts.

However, Cosmosphere officials would not specify whom they suspect of taking the missing artifacts or whether any former employees are under suspicion.

'Just waiting like everyone else'

With the outcome of the investigation in limbo, Cosmosphere employees have worked under a cloud of distraction, Ollenburger said.

But with the probe outside of the museum's control, the staff has had to go about their business as best they can, Ollenburger said.

Cosmosphere Board Chairman Pat Gaughan of Wichita said Ollenburger has been a strong leader during a difficult period.

Ollenburger already faced the challenge of stepping in for Ary, the Cosmosphere's only CEO in its first 27 years and the man who helped build the space museum into the internationally acclaimed home of pieces like the Apollo 13 capsule.

"I don't see how he could have done a better job than what he's done," Gaughan said.

Ollenburger said he's hoping an announcement soon on the investigation will help museum staff put the situation behind them.

"We are just waiting like everyone else," Ollenburger said.




Cosmosphere discovers artifacts sold

November 6, 2003 — The following statement was released by the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center after a staff audit discovered that artifacts were missing from their collection:
During a routine internal audit of artifacts not on display, Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center staff discovered some irregularities in the museum's collection. Further investigation indicated items appear to have been sold without authorization. At the conclusion of the audit, the Cosmosphere determined the matter should be referred to the U.S. Attorney's office.

"The integrity of the Cosmosphere's collection is paramount," said Jeff Ollenburger, president and CEO of the Cosmosphere. "We take very seriously our role in preserving historic artifacts. At this time, we have turned over all our audit documentation to the authorities and are cooperating with them as they pursue the investigation further."

Current exhibits, education programs, and building operations will not be affected by the investigation and restoration efforts for the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum continue on Gemini 6 and Gemini 10.
The missing items include nuts and bolts, gloves and personal items that were not on display, Ollenburger told the Associated Press. "We don't know the full extent of everything that is missing yet," he said. "It's a variety of different things."

According to Jim Remar, Director of Collections, Exhibits and Buildings, indications are that items missing were sold for personal gain. "To the best of our knowledge, the investigation does not involve anyone currently employed by the Cosmosphere."

"We have done a thorough review of our policies and procedures as well as the control mechanisms that pertain to the collection and have made appropriate changes and implemented the appropriate procedures and controls," wrote Remar in an e-mail to the Cosmosphere's partners. "The new policies have been reviewed for us by outside sources."

More information about the missing artifacts and their unauthorized sale will be shared here as it is released.

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