A nurse convicted of defrauding and abusing the mentally ill residents of the Newton home she ran with her husband will return 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 that U.S. District Judge Monti Belot should reconsider factors that could lengthen her seven-year prison sentence.
The couple operated their Kaufman House Residential Treatment Center in Newton from 1980 until they were arrested in 2004.
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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.
According to testimony at their trial, 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.
Belot told attorneys in a letter Thursday that he intends to follow federal advisory guidelines at the Oct. 27 hearing.
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.
The government contends in court documents that under its calculation, 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 over 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."
Gradert argued that the enhancements should not be applied because some testimony by the mentally ill residents was not credible. He also contended that Linda Kaufman was less culpable than her husband.
"Mrs. Kaufman is now 66 years old. She is not infirm, but a sentence longer than 84 months would put her in jeopardy of dying in prison, the same result as her husband's fate,'' Gradert wrote. "This result is simply greater than necessary to achieve the goals of sentencing."
Belot initially showed some leniency for Linda Kaufman, agreeing with a Wichita psychiatrist that she had a dependent personality disorder and was manipulated by her husband. The initial sentence he gave her was below the sentencing guidelines.