Group-Home Owners Charged

With Resident Abuse, Fraud

WICHITA -- The owners of a group home for the mentally ill were convicted Monday of enslaving its residents, forcing them to work naked and perform sex acts, and illegally billing their families and the federal government for therapy.

Arlan Kaufman, 69, and his wife, Linda, 62, were convicted of 30 federal charges, including health care fraud, Medicare fraud, forced labor and holding clients in involuntary servitude at the Kaufman House Residential Treatment Center. The convictions could put them in prison for the rest of their lives.

Federal prosecutors said the Kaufmans controlled the lives of the mentally ill residents, including forcing them to work on their farm and deciding who could wear clothes. The Kaufmans said that nude therapy sessions were beneficial for schizophrenic patients, and that having residents act out problem behavior helped them avoid repeating it. Arlan Kaufman said the residents' behavior was voluntary.

Prosecutors called it abuse and said it spanned more than 20 years while the couple billed Medicare more than $216,000. The Kaufmans incorporated their unlicensed treatment center in 1980 and ran it until being arrested in October 2004.

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-- From News Services