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Archive for Friday, October 16, 2009

Re-sentencing in servitude case set

October 16, 2009

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— A nurse convicted of defrauding and abusing the mentally ill residents of the Kansas home she ran with her husband returns to a federal courtroom Oct. 27 for re-sentencing.

Linda Kaufman and her husband were convicted in November 2006 of enslaving the home’s residents, forcing them to work naked and perform sex acts while billing the government and their families for the “therapy.”

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld their convictions, but sent her case back to the district court in Wichita for re-sentencing. A three-judge appeals panel ruled U.S. District Judge Monti Belot should reconsider factors that could lengthen her seven-year prison sentence.

Her social worker husband, Arlan, was sentenced to 30 years after a federal jury found him guilty of 31 charges. His wife was convicted of 30 counts.

Trial testimony

According to testimony at their trial in Wichita, the Kaufmans controlled every aspect of the lives of the mentally ill people they cared for, including deciding where they could sleep, what they ate and who could wear clothes. There was testimony about residents being forced to masturbate, fondle each other and shave each other’s genitals while being videotaped.

Belot told attorneys in a letter Thursday that he intends to follow federal advisory guidelines at the Oct. 27 hearing.

The government intends to have two witnesses testify.

The appeals court ordered Belot to determine whether Linda Kaufman used a stun gun on residents and how many of the residents were considered vulnerable when reconsidering the sentence, something that could lengthen sentence.

The appeals court agreed with the government that she should also get more time for obstruction of justice.

Belot told attorneys that he intended to address those enhancements, but that he did not believe he was limited to them. He said he expected to impose a sentence under the advisory sentencing guidelines.

Possible sentences

The government contends in court documents that under its calculation of advisory guidelines, a sentence of 324 to 405 months should be applied for involuntary servitude, or alternatively 292 months to 365 months in prison under fraud guidelines.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway argued in court documents that if the court was considering a sentence outside those guidelines, Linda Kaufman should get to no less than 20 years in prison. Some of the victims had lived at the Kaufman House for more than 20 years.

“In fashioning an appropriate sentence, the court should consider the years the defendant stole from her victims, which are years the court cannot fully redress absent a significant sentence,” Treadway wrote.

But her defense attorney, Steven Gradert, argued that the original sentence was “well reasoned, based on facts and a fair and just sentence.”

The couple operated their Kaufman House Residential Treatment Center in Newton from 1980 until they were arrested in 2004.

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