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Stupid Case File for October 15, 2005

Kansas Couple on Trial for Enslaving Mentally Ill

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas (Reuters) - A Kansas husband and wife who ran a psychotherapy practice went on trial on Tuesday on charges that they kept mentally ill people as slaves, forced them to perform sex acts on videotape and then billed Medicare nearly $1 million for the "therapy."

Prosecutors charged that Arlan Kaufman, 68, and his wife Linda Kaufman, 62, spent 18 years taking advantage of patients entrusted to their care. The couple ran a residential care facility in Newton, Kansas, where they worked with at least 20 mentally ill individuals from 1980 until 2004.

Jury selection began Tuesday for an expected five-week trial in U.S. District Court in Wichita.

Authorities are seeking to prove that while the couple was billing relatives and insurers for therapy, rent, utilities and food, they were forcing the residents to engage in hard manual labor in the nude on a farm the couple owned outside of town.

Prosecutors charged the residents were also forced to engage in a variety of sexually explicit acts, including masturbating, fondling each other and shaving each other's genitals, much of which was videotaped.

Patients were physically injured or restrained if they resisted, authorities charged.

Prosecutors have filed 33 criminal counts against the Kaufmans including charges of forced labor, involuntary servitude, health care fraud, mail fraud and obstruction of a federal audit.

The Kaufmans submitted just under $1 million in claims to Medicare from 1991 through 2000 and were paid $216,906, authorities said.

Defense attorneys for the Kaufmans declined to comment. The couple faces more than 200 years in prison if convicted of all the charges.


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