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June 20, 2012

Former social worker who advocated ‘nude therapy’ keeps 30-year sentence; appeal denied

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied former Newton social worker Arlan Kaufman’s appeal to reduce his 30-year sentence.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied former Newton social worker Arlan Kaufman’s appeal to reduce his 30-year sentence.

Kaufman was convicted of involuntary servitude and health care fraud in 2005. He and his wife, Linda Kaufman, were found guilty of forcing mentally ill residents to work naked on their farm near Potwin and perform sex acts at their group home in Newton. The couple then billed the victims’ families and the government for “nude therapy.”

In its decision Tuesday, the three-judge panel based in Denver rejected Arlan Kaufman’s claims that his attorney was ineffective and noted the overwhelming evidence against him.

The Kaufmans’ abuse of residents first surfaced in 1999, when residents were seen doing chores outside in the nude. In 2001, a psychiatrist reviewing cases for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, the state’s Medicare provider, noticed odd records in patient files and alerted Medicare officials.

Medicare fraud investigators searching the group home run by the Kaufmans then discovered tapes with more than 100 hours of footage recording the abuse. Even with this evidence, the state didn’t act until late 2004. By then, the state’s two-year statute of limitations had passed, and the Kaufmans were charged in federal court.

Linda Kaufman, a former registered nurse, was also convicted of involuntary servitude and health care fraud in 2005. Originally sentenced to seven years in 2006, her sentence was doubled in 2009 after new evidence of her involvement was presented. She is currently serving a 15-year sentence in federal prison.

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