On Friday May 2nd, 2008, former Fairbanks Mayor and UA Regent Jim Hayes (pictured at left), along with his wife Chris, will be sentenced for money laundering, theft, and fraud in U.S. District Court in Fairbanks, Alaska. Jim Hayes will face at least 6 1/2 years imprisonment. Full story in the Anchorage Daily News.
Those needing a refresher on the case can review all previous posts on this blog.
Hayes and his wife were convicted of misusing more than $450,000 in government grants sent to the non-profit LOVE Social Services agency. They diverted the funds towards the construction of the new Lily of the Valley Church of God in Christ where he has been pastor, as well as towards personal use. Prosecutors are recommending he be sentenced to serve between 78 months to 97 months. His lawyer is arguing for a 33-month sentence. The former three-term mayor was convicted by a federal jury of 16 of the 27 counts of which he was charged.
Chris Hayes pleaded guilty to two felony charges of theft and money laundering. Prosecutors recommend she be sentenced to serve between 57 months to 71 months.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that some Fairbanks residents are pleading for "leniency". One lady posted a comment claiming that Hayes was such a "wonderful person and a gentleman". A Fairbanks physician also wrote to suggest Hayes depression and ailing physical health could worsen if he were put in jail.
However, a couple of other comments posted to the News-Miner story were more typical:
4/28/2008, 1:36 p.m.
Public officials, retired or actively serving, should be held to the highest standards in my opinion. This couple made a choice and should be held accountable. Of course this is horrible situation for any family or community, but there has been a breach of trust and confidence by a prominent man and his wife in a manner that is unacceptable. In a time where corruption and fraud seems to be an everyday occurence in our political system there should be a point where people stand up and say that we won't tolerate it. Leniency should not be an option for crimes such as these. And the fact remains that there are times when good people make horrible decisions. But that decision was theirs to make and they should now be willing to face the penalty for their actions.
4/28/2008, 1:37 p.m.
That is all he is getting? He is suppose to be a servant of God and he went ahead and misused all the money he was given. and now people are feeling sorry for him, and say he was a good person? Jiminy Christmas! He stole money from a church, get real people, the justice system should teach one and all this is not allowable and should be punished for a real long time.
The Alaska branches of the NAACP have, to their credit, remained silent on this case. Even they cannot defend a black preacher laundering taxpayer money and diverting it to his pet causes. Of course, if the NAACP really wanted to render a constructive service to Alaska's black community, they would issue a statement condemning Hayes' conduct and urging black youth not to follow his example. Perhaps they'll issue such a statement on Friday after the sentence is pronounced. I won't exactly hold my breath waiting for them to do it.
Of course, while Jim Hayes might get as little as 78 months for stealing $450,000 of taxpayer funds, white political activist Shaun Walker got 87 months for getting into two bar fights in Utah - and it turns out he wasn't even present for either. Gives you a hint as to society's prejudices and priorities, doesn't it?