88-year-old business owner who can’t afford repairs finds himself in jail

Posted on: 6:23 pm, December 30, 2013, by and

HORTON, Kan. — The businessman found himself on the wrong side of the law in the town of Horton, Kan. because bricks on his downtown office building are considered a hazard and need to be repaired.

Kenneth Knudson, 88, said he is a salt of the earth kind of guy who has never been in trouble. In fact, according to him, he has been devoting his life to the city of Horton.

“I was on the planning commission for Horton, I’ve been the president of the chamber, I’ve been on the appeals board,” said Knudson.

Now Knudson is appealing to the public, the judge and the city of Horton. For more than a year this world war two veteran has faced city code violations because his office building in downtown Horton has a cracked exterior wall and missing bricks near the basement door.

Knudson said sales at his 30-year-old jewelry store have faded like his sign, and his beauty salon next door is barely keeping him and his wife afloat. He said he is just flat out broke and can’t afford to have the work done.

“I went around and tried to get contractors to bid on it and fix it and no one was interested,” said Knudson.

Knudson said the city offered to do the work for $10,000 and apply it to his taxes, but he said that’s just too expensive.

“You should be able to buy the whole downtown for five thousand,” he joked.

All jokes aside, Knudson said when he went to court on December 23 to let the judge know he couldn’t afford to have the work done, he said he was fined $100 and then put in jail.

“I just couldn’t believe it, I just couldn’t believe it,” said Knudson’s wife, Veda.

Veda Knudson said she and her husband have been married for 66 years and she never thought he would spend time in jail. Knudson said it came as a shock to him.

“They can’t throw you in jail for that, you didn’t do nothing. I said no, that’s why they’re throwing you in jail. I didn’t get nothing done,” he said.

The judge has ordered Knudson to have the work done before he goes back to court next month or must pay a $500 fine. So far he’s only been able to put up a plastic construction fence behind his property to keep people from getting too close to his building.

“I just don’t have the money to fix it,” said Knudson.


  • I agree, I would donate some $$$ to the cause. And, SHAME on Horton, MO for treating a old VET like that. Geeze, no respect. It’s not like he lied to the city, ya know?

  • River Rat Ron says:

    Someone in the city has their eye on that building…

  • Charles says:

    we just had a building fall down, and this building is just as old. It is a major hazard, but throwing Kenny in jail is dumb. We got a bunch of smart people running the place.

  • Sheila Snyder says:

    Is there an address we can send donations to help this guy?

  • Charles says:

    Knudson Jewelry 107 W 8th St, Horton, KS 66439

  • Evelyn Bosch says:

    Maybe a contractor will step up to the plate and help him out.

  • Dee says:

    Only in America. You can go out and get drunk, kill 3 people, maim a forth for life and get to what amounts to a slap on the wrist. Heaven forbid we let an honest businessman off the hook for something as petty as this.

  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/Knudson-Jewelry-of-Hairport/601579399896266 if you want to donate the phone number and address is here please share this page

  • Abby says:

    What in the world is wrong with people? I have lived in Horton all my life and can say there are much worse things going on there than an honest older gentlemen struggling to get his business up to code. How dare they put that poor man in jail for being honest. Not only is he 88 but a veteran and a vital member to the early growth of this town. How about instead of badgering him and embarrassing him and his sweet wife y’all clean out some of the REAL trash in this town. Our elders are something to be cherished and respected. They are the reason we have what we have now. How do we repay this man’s service to his country and community? Throw him in jail! Yep. Something is wrong with this whole picture. Ridiculous.

  • I have lived in this town of Horton Kansas for so many years and lets say if I had the money I would of moved out of it years ago and that’s not the worst they have made treats of putting really low income moms like myself in jail cause I can’t make the repairs to my home like painting the outside of my house but like I have said I am a single mom that supports three kids on my own and it is hard enough to pay the bills every month let alone do the repairs but do these guys understand any of this NO but that is what HORTON ,KS is all about. I wish the best for Kenny and his family but in Horton its hard to get help anywhere in this small town unless you have the money

  • Hannah says:

    I too live in Horton Kansas and have all my life. What they have forced Kenny and his wife to come up with is just ridiculous. They have owned that building since I was a kid and even wayyyy before that! I understand codes and what not but why dont we start tearing down the places that really need it, that make this town looklike total trash! But no instead they pick on these poor old working folk!!

    • Shauna McLeod says:

      Sounds like curb appeal needs to go to Horton…. I think it is outrageous what the city is doing… I also noticed “they can have it done for $10,000.00 wonder how much of that money they are going to pocket. I hope and pray that a bunch from all around come in and take care of these repairs for this couple and for the grandmother who is taking care of her grandchildren, and the city government and judge hang their heads in shame for treating people like this. I mean a few of them that are getting paid with taxpayers dollars could probably pitch in for some paint or even start a fundraiser themselves to help these people. It would look much better on them then what they are doing now…. SHAME, SHAME. I wish I could do something. However I am in as bad shape as some of them due to illness, I will however pray that a big show up of real AMERICANS show up and show Horton how America should be. We can help everyone else all over the world but we can’t take care of those at home first…Prayers for the City of Hortons residence who are being treated like this…

  • Anonymous says:

    An elderly woman of Horton, KS was also thrown into jail at the same time as Knudson for not keeping her house up to code. This woman has been taking care of her grandchildren because her daughter is going through treatments for cancer. Unfortunately, she has been unable to pay to keep up her house due to the medical bills. While Horton, KS is a lovely town with great people, those people should also never have to face jail time for violating a city ordinance.

  • Bob says:

    Cry about it pay your bills like the rest of us

  • Mary Ward says:

    The City of Horton needs to step up and help this man in a real way! The City of Horton stands to benefit from the improvement of the building, maintaining of businesses, so it should help a man who genuinely needs it.

  • Rick says:

    It appears we need a boycott. I work in Horton and have supported the small local businesses as much as i can. I think its time for me to stop. I understand that safety comes first. Who decides when the building is unsafe? What professional determined it? Are you telling me the City of Horton has a professional on their payroll who can determine structural integrity of a 100 yr old building? Why didnt the city just force the business to shut down? Why jail someone who admits he is too poor to make repairs? So many questions and so little answers. Each building on that block needs some repairs. This man is a Vet. Who secured the freedoms of for all Americans and they go and take his away over something like this. Its shameful and disgraceful. Horton is a very poor town and should quit acting like they are something else. People are moving out in droves so the city is putting the pinch on those who remain.

  • Dave says:

    Really? Shame on them! What ever happen to helping your fellow man
    Instead they tossed a 88 year old man in jail
    Kind of makes me sick to my stomach!

  • all city contractors says:

    Send us contact information and we will see if we are able to help with labor.we are members of post 400 also patriot guard riders and a veteran.

    • ncalkins says:


      January 4, 2014 at 10:58 am
      Raising money to help Mr. Knudson. I have just been contacted by a veteran’s organization and hope they will post on their website. Contributions appreciated. Funds are paid directly to Mr, Knudson at the end of the fundraising period, which will be extended if we don’t have the $10,000 yet. Thank you so much

    • R Berton says:

      A contractor has stepped up..Another from New Hampshire also pledged to do it, but would have been spring he is doing it for free but the Knudsons insist the the funds be used to pay him…. A biker group in New England also contributed to the site. awesome people !.. Might be decent if we can get them a little cushion

      They were stunned by all the support . Donate to them directly via the Give forward site

      Awesome people… God Bless

  • Harry H Morrison Jr says:

    Just another way to bully people that try to do the right thing. I hate bully’s. they come in the form of city councils law enforcement and anyone that make other people have a ruff time.

  • Lisa says:

    I worked with him when I worked at sax @ Fox and he was always a sweet and caring person. I can’t believe that they would throw a 88 your old man who has done so much for this town in jail. This town has so much more stuff going on that is far worse. I understand there are codes and regulations on buildings for safety reasons but to throw someone in jail cause they can’t afford repairs is outrageous. My mom and dad were going to get fined for having a house with a broken window in it if they didn’t have it tore down I’ve been in this town for 10 years and I can honestly say it has gone downhill when you start picking on the elderly we have a problem especially one that is a veteran. If I could get out of this town I would have done it years ago. I pray that they receive the help to get this taken care of. If I had the money I would donate to the cause

  • I really wish a Lawyer would step up and work pro bono for the elders of this town. When Kenny got arrested and put in jail, Horton’s finest arrested a 90 year old woman. She had bought some property and was fixing it up and didnt get it painted in time for them…..I am so angry right now….

  • Melissa says:

    i’m a little skeptical about donating. there was another page for kenneth and it was shut down because he did not want any help. so where did my money go?

  • Chip says:

    I know there’s a “George Bailey’s brother” out there that would help out here. The story just needs to get out. You “Potters” out there waiting to swoop in, hope the wheel fall off your wheelchair!

  • Jon says:

    The Judge who makes his living off the money that this guy is overtaxed on, should help pay for the repair.

  • Tina Ferrer says:

    Do we have the name of this Judge? Anyone let alone a Judge that puts an 88 year old veteran in jail is clinical and I think a bit of due diligence is warranted before further action. Name of Judge please?

  • green411 says:

    How can I contact this man directly? Prior to me pursuing a career in the medical field I was a Mason and I would like to contribute in someway.

    To the ones that live around this business, what is the type of damage? Is it strictly Mason work?


  • Damitall says:

    Dam they let a woman out of prison who aided and abetted the one eyed Mullah Omar for the 1993 bombing and then do this to an elderly vet.

    He would have been better off being a terrorist, eh?

  • gary logan says:

    My Dad is 93, also a WWII vet. (he was a also dock worker at Pearl Harbor on the day of Infamy) He stresses endlessly over his taxes though he has an accountant and I help him do them every year. But someone 30 can’t come up with an ID card to vote. All taxes should be waived for anyone over 75. Who the “heck” can comply with a Billion or so pages of tax law. Then others are too ??? to come up with an ID card.

  • James W. Dean says:

    I will gladly serve his “time” for him

    Semper Fi

  • So now we have a legal precedent for debtor’s prison. Welcome to Obama’s America. Remember this “if you can’t pay you go to jail” mentality when millions of people cannot pay their Obamacare premiums OR the penalty for not having Obamacare. This is building the framework for a much larger problem.

    There is one solution: vote everyone out. Turn out in droves in the next local election and remember this moment. And then roll over the State legislature, and the Federal Congress. Republican, democrat, independent, at this point it doesn’t matter. Vote for people who see the problem, and are more interested in fixing the system that setting themselves up for a lifetime job by whoring out their morals for votes.

  • Nanny State says:

    Just goes to show you how screwed up these judges are, one in Texas that lets a drunk driver who kills 4 people basically walk with no jail time, and another that puts an 88 year old honest guy in jail for a crack in a brick wall……………..must be Obama appointee’s…………

  • Brett says:

    Does anyone know how the judge in this matter is appointed to his “throne”? If he is subject to any election process, I would hope that the people of Horton remember this outrageous action and vote him off the bench. Is there a county attorney trying to prosecute Kenneth? His job should be under review as well. One final thought. What if Kenneth suffered a heart attack and died because of the stress of this event. Would the judge, attorney, others be held responsible for that? Would they even care?

  • Tom Ballard says:

    The judge and court that imposed this sentence should be made to shovel snow in their underwear for a week then crawl back in the hole they came out of what a joke…………………………..

  • Doug says:

    You have to go back and think about the judge in this case. Due to his experience and education he was able to make the most accurate decision in his entire law career. The defendant was found in contempt of court! Based on his decision Mr. Knudson should have had about 250 million companions during his night in jail. At least Mr. Knudson was safe during his stay since they don’t put crooks in jail anymore!

  • John says:

    Man talk about messed up. We treat terrorist better than this.

    Small town USA has been overtaken by liberal rules and regulations.

    Runaway Legalism is going to be the death of us all.

    88 years old…poor guy…something evil comes this way…”Progressivism”.

    • Nathaniel says:

      This has nothing to do with progressivism or liberalism. The area is very Republican; over 70% of votes in the most recent presidential election were for Romney. The “liberal” candidates received about 27% of the votes.

  • Vinny says:

    WHOLE DOWNTOWN looks like that! Some corrupt people in this town picking on a WWII vet just to make an example of him. Seems to be a war against WWII vets in this country.

  • Haywood says:

    This man was a President to the Chamber of Commerce, he was a City Councilman too, that means he not only KNEW about these city ordinances, he VOTED for them, and PUSHED to have them when he was in public office and with the Chamber of Commerce! Now, he doesnt want to keep his property in compliance for whatever reason; tough!! The city was right to lay it on him for contempt, and they also have the right to take this property under imminent domain if they decide to pelt him with fines, repair bills, etc, and they arent paid. He had no problems when he was helping do this to others, I dont want to hear about his whining now!!

  • Sean Gardner says:

    I also launched a fundraising effort for him and will call him today to see if he wants to put his name on it. I now see there are several of us who have done the same and perhaps should consolidate our efforts! I actually set the target at 20K as the site takes a certain %, I don’t want him getting hit with a tax issue, and we don’t have the real cost for repairs.


  • AC says:

    I’d be happy to donate some hemp rope, to solve the real problem here.

  • Wow! Talk about an Orwellian judge and trumped up court decision worthy of the most crooked junta or regime anywhere in South America. $10,000.00??!! Jail for an 88 year old World War II vet — just to pay a debt? The cost of the brickwork is for a new house, not a door repair? What kind of crooked contractor would have the nerve to make that stupid quote? What kind of citizenry would stand by and not demand the state attorney general, governor, judicial committee, or whoever has judicial jurisdiction in that state suspend the judge and sanely look into the matter? If I wasn’t half a continent away, I would buy a half pallet of bricks and some mortar mix and do the fix myself.

  • Terri Black says:

    WHAT is the name of this heartless judge that threw an elderly law abiding citizen in jail? He/she should be thrown from office. They work for US, NOT the other way around. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!
    If this judge cannot serve with wisdom, then he does not deserve the position (and taxpayer money that he is paid).

  • Sylvia says:

    This story has gone viral around the country and was mentioned on Glenn Beck’s website The Blaze:


    Hope the town gives the poor guy a break…

  • Nick says:

    I make a good gopher, Have a truck for hauling if needed.

  • Jessica Meckna says:

    You have a good heart Dennis!! Wish more people in this world followed examples that people like you set!

  • Johnny J. Buller says:

    It’s not just small town. Kansas City does the same kind of thing to the poorest people in the city. My ex inherited a house from her grandmother and the city kept demanding that she do repairs and upgrades. She kept trying her best; but, as soon as she would fix one thing they would complain about something else. She had to keep borrowing money against the house to do the repairs until she couldn’t keep up the payments on the money she had to borrow and she eventually lost the house.

  • Donna Garmany says:

    I was told to contact fox 4 news for now for any help. I called KSNT and they are going to Horton on Thursday to do a story

  • Click on https://www.giveforward.com/ above and where it says “donate now” click, then at the top put in Kenneth Knudson’s name and it will take you to the “giveforward” site to donate. All money collected on this site goes to Mr. Knudson.

  • thetmanski says:

    Debtors prisons in America. What a bunch of BS. Someone in the local government wants that property for some reason.

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