Judge doubles sentence for woman convicted of abusing mentally ill patients

Linda Kaufman received more than double her original sentence by a federal judge this afternoon for her role in abusing mentally ill patients under her care.

U.S. District Judge Monti Belot sentenced the 66-year-old Newton woman to 15 years in prison on a 2006 conviction for enslaving mentally ill residents at a group home she ran with her husband, Arlan Kaufman.

The resentencing resulted from an order by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals asking Belot to reconsider Linda Kaufman's initial 7-year sentence. Prosecutors had appealed Belot's decision, saying Linda Kaufman deserved more time.

Her sentence was still half of the 30 years Arlan Kaufman received.

"'To the extent I bought into Linda Kaufman's protestations that she was some kind of unwilling pawn at the hands of her husband, I don't do so now," Belot said.

A jury convicted the Kaufmans of abusing severely mentally ill people living at their two group homes, the Kaufman House, in Newton. Evidence at trial showed the couple made some residents work on a farm naked, kept them in secluded rooms and punished at least one man by shooting a stun gun to his genitals.

The case covered some 20 years of activity that did not come to light until this decade.

Nancy Jensen, who had lived at the Kaufman House group home in the late 1980s, was relieved by the longer sentence.

"I feel justified," she said. "I feel vindicated."

The Kaufmans' children said in a statement: "We are very disappointed that the court added so much additional time after (our) mother has served two-thirds of her original sentence as a model prisoner. Our family is devastated by this lack of justice."

There is no parole from federal prison.