Ex-Fairbanks mayor wants new trial

Posted: Tuesday, February 24, 2009

FAIRBANKS - Former Fairbanks Mayor Jim Hayes has asked for a new trial - again.

He is serving time after being found guilty of siphoning grant funding from his wife's tutoring and mentoring center called LOVE Social Services.

He was also found guilty of hiding the funds through money laundering.

His attorney Jim Murtagh filed the appeal Friday. It's basically a rewrite of his first effort from last fall.

Murtagh turned in a 49-page opening brief to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Federal prosecutors had said Murtagh's first attempt cited unpublished cases, rendering his entire argument legally out of bounds and leaving them unable to respond.

Murtagh disagreed, but rewrote the brief, which he said is basically an edit cutting 231 words from a 10,000-word document.

Murtagh says Jim Hayes' trial should have been delayed last year so his wife, Chris Hayes, could testify to being the central figure in the theft of more than $400,000 derived from social service grants.

The former Fairbanks first couple founded the tutoring center in 2000, when Jim Hayes was still in his third term as mayor.

Chris Hayes, who around that time fell into personal debt, served as the executive director and operated the center from the old home of the Lily of the Valley Church of God in Christ.

Meanwhile, church officials led construction of a 21,000-square-foot new home across the street - one built partly with money from the earmark-funded tutoring center.

Witnesses at Jim Hayes' trial told jurors the church project's price tag grew too fast for its budget to manage without help.

Hayes and his wife are serving time in separate federal facilities in Texas. John Sedwick, an Alaska-based judge with the federal District Court system, sentenced Jim Hayes in May to more than five years in jail.

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