Couple Sentenced To 37 Years For Enslaving Group Home
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 31, 2006
WICHITA, KANSAS--A judge has given vastly different sentences to a husband and wife who were convicted of abusing and enslaving residents of their group home.
Last November, a federal jury convicted 69-year-old Arlen Kaufman on 31 charges, including forced labor, involuntary servitude, health-care fraud, Medicare fraud, and making a false representation.
The jury also convicted Linda Kaufman, 62, on 30 federal charges.
Last Monday, U.S. District Judge Monte Belot sentenced Mr. Kaufman to 30 years in prison, but Mrs. Kaufman to just seven years.
According to the Associated Press, Belot told Mr. Kaufman upon sentencing that he was "arrogant and a bully", and told Mrs. Kaufman "I feel he is dangerous, not you."
A psychologist had described Mrs. Kaufman as a "dependent personality" who was manipulated by her husband.
The jury had heard testimony that the couple 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.
Disability rights advocates want state laws changed so that legal guardians do not have conflicts of interest, such as also being service providers. The Disability Rights Center of Kansas noted that Arlen 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.
The center also supports a measure that would bring together protective service agencies so that they act more cohesively in investigating complaints such as those filed by the residents at Kaufman House.
The Disability Rights Center of Kansas