- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A federal jury convicted a former Anchorage prosecutor of fraud and money laundering after authorities say he used tens of millions of dollars from a trust fund he set up for a wealthy widow to buy two World War II-era fighter jets, a yacht and other items.

Mark Avery was found guilty Tuesday of three counts of wire fraud, six counts of money laundering, one count of bank fraud and one count of making false statements. Federal prosecutors say they were the largest money laundering convictions ever in Alaska, KTUU-TV reported (https://bit.ly/1pnNWcV ).

Avery was acquitted of one count of wire fraud.

“We’re pleased. We feel the jury did a tremendous job in evaluating the evidence and coming up with a fair and just verdict,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven E. Skrocki told the TV station.

The 57-year-old was indicted in 2013 on allegations of defrauding May Wong Smith. Avery was paid $600,000 to manage the woman’s trust fund but used his authority to acquire more than $52 million worth of assets, prosecutors say.

An investigation determined that the former prosecutor used the assets as collateral to get a $52 million loan, all of which he spent in six months. He used the money to pay off a mortgage and buy vintage planes, property, boats and other items.

Avery had pleaded guilty to money laundering and wire fraud in 2007 but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed his conviction three years later after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The high court found that the fraud theory used to convict Avery was unconstitutional.

Prosecutors reorganized their case and filed new charges against Avery, claiming he engaged in a scheme to defraud Smith and her trust.

Avery, who now lives in San Francisco, is free on bail as he awaits sentencing on May 17. His attorney, Mike Dieni, could not be reached for comment.

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