Jury Convicts Couple Of Enslaving, Defrauding And Abusing Group Home
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 9, 2005
WICHITA, KANSAS--Former residents of a Kansas group home expressed relief Monday after hearing news that a federal jury found the home's owners guilty of abusing and enslaving them.
Arlen Kaufman, 69, and his wife, Linda, 62, were convicted on a total of 61 federal charges, including forced labor, involuntary servitude, health-care fraud, Medicare fraud, and making a false representation. Each faces a minimum of 20 years in federal prison when they are sentenced in late January.
The jury heard testimony that the couple had abused and mistreated the residents, all of whom have mental illness, over a 20 year period by forcing them to do household and outdoor tasks in the nude, perform sexual acts, and then intimidating them to keep them from reporting the abuse. The couple also billed inappropriate or non-existent therapies to Medicare.
On Tuesday, the jury ordered the couple to give up four real estate properties, plus $85,187 to pay back the government and residents.
Rocky Nichols, director of the Disability Rights Center, told the Wichita Eagle that many of the former residents he talked to Monday night were glad somebody had finally believed them. In the past, their reports had been dismissed as part of their 'schizophrenic delusions'.
"Some of them thought they would never be believed," said Nichols. "They all voiced a great sense of relief."
Mental health advocates want state laws changed so that legal guardians do not have conflicts of interest, such as also being service providers. They cite the fact that Arlan Kaufman was one resident's guardian, as well as her therapist, landlord, and service provider, thereby allowing him to write checks to himself out of her bank account.
"There are many, many other situations out there where guardians are the service providers. It happens far too frequently in our state, and it is because Kansas law has allowed it to happen," Nichols told the Associated Press. "The guardian is the one appointed by the court to stand up for the person with a disability, to stand up to the service provider to make sure everything is on the up and up."
"Kaufmans found guilty of abuse" (Wichita Eagle)
"Mentally ill residents abused" (Associated Press via Canton Repository)
"Trial raises oversight concerns; Disability advocates want state to strengthen laws" (Associated Press via Topeka Capitol-Journal)