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

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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.

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  • Nanny State

    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

    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?

  • Doug

    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

    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

      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.

  • Haywood

    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

    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.

  • Richard Najjar

    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

    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).