FEBRUARY 13, 2008
The mayor of Alaska’s second largest city has been convicted for using nearly half a million dollars in government grants intended for low-income youths to cover personal bills, purchase a plasma television set and to pay for a costly family wedding reception.
A federal jury found Fairbanks Mayor Jim Hayes guilty of conspiracy, theft, fraud, misapplication of federal funds, money laundering and filing false tax returns for stealing $450,000 worth of federal earmarks intended for a social services tutoring and mentoring center operated by his wife.
The money was part of $2.9 million steered by Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens to the social services center through congressional earmarks. Considered Alaska’s most powerful political figure, Stevens is at the center of a widespread corruption probe involving several bribed legislators and his home was raided by federal agents last summer.
Some of his earmark dollars were also used by Hayes for construction of a church, founded by his wife’s parents, where the Fairbanks mayor is pastor. The most despicable part is that the taxpayer funds were taken from poverty-stricken youths that Hayes took a special interest in as a black lawmaker seeking to help his ailing community.
The tax-exempt mentoring and tutoring facility, opened in 2000, is called the LOVE social services center and its mission is to help poor youths stay out of trouble and excel academically.
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