Both sides prepare for legal battle in trial of Jim Hayes

Ex-Fairbanks mayor faces federal charges in alleged crimes

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2008

FAIRBANKS - A defense attorney for former Fairbanks Mayor Jim Hayes filed court papers challenging federal prosecutors to prove his client's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a case accusing Hayes and his wife of misusing federal grants.

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The court documents - and filings submitted by prosecutors - indicate the arguments to come when the two sides square off in federal court later this month, when Hayes is set to go to trial.

Hayes, who faces federal charges of money laundering and other alleged financial crimes, never signed any of the checks, money orders or cashier's checks that will be used as evidence in his trial, defense attorney John Murtagh wrote in the Thursday brief.

Murtagh said he expects that prosecutors will try to show that Hayes' wife - Murilda "Chris" Hayes - had been misspending grants from federal agencies for personal purposes and to help with construction of a new church for Jim Hayes' congregation across the street from LOVE Social Services, a nonprofit the couple helped found. Chris Hayes pleaded guilty last month to two felony charges of theft and money laundering.

"All of the financial instruments in the overt acts and money laundering charges were drafted by someone other than Jim Hayes," Murtagh wrote.

Prosecutors have said they plan to call scores of witnesses in the trial, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 22.

Murtagh said he likely will spend little time cross-examining government witnesses, "except where necessary to point out the (documents) were not signed by James Hayes, but, rather, were signed by others."

The government's brief pointed to a change in spending habits by Jim and Chris Hayes during the time their nonprofit received $2.9 million in grants. The Hayes' are accused of using cash from 2001 to 2003 to buy a number of items including a $41,000 Jaguar and a $34,000 Ford truck and to lease a $98,000 Mercedes.

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