Friends come together to help save veteran’s home and belongings

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MERRIAM, Kan. -- Friends of a 70-year-old Merriam man are banding together to save his belongings. They were being thrown in a dumpster while he was in the hospital. As the friends tell FOX 4 Problem Solver Linda Wagar, they worry that the man is being taken advantage of by a former pastor who's now behind bars.

Piece by piece, Louis Laugeson’s friends are trying to save what's left of his life.

“Nobody should have this done to them at all,” Jennifer Gould said.

Gould is talking about the dumpster, which now contains most of what was once in a Merriam home belonging to Laugeson. He’s been staying at a VA nursing facility since July while he recuperates from physical and mental health issues.

“He's a Vietnam Veteran who's disabled and even though he has a traumatic brain injury he is very bright and charming man,” Pat Lamb said.

Friends said Laugeson had hoped to return to his home after he's released next week. But he had no idea nearly all his belongings were being thrown away.

“If he came home and seen this, it would do more damage than before. I fear it would just do him in,” Gould said.

Mixed in with much of Laugeson's furniture are personal mementos, including his marching band uniform from the University of Kansas, which he'd held on to since he graduated in 1964.

His friends say before Laugeson went into the hospital he granted power of attorney to a man named Robert Krahl. However, Krahl, a former minister, is now behind bars and charged with sexually molesting a child. So the ex-minister's attorney James Barker has been dealing with Laugeson's affairs, something both Laugeson and his friends acknowledge.

“Because the preacher is incarcerated the lawyer representing him is acting on his behalf,” Lamb said.

FOX 4 Problem Solvers made multiple attempts to find Barker. When we couldn't reach him by phone, we paid a visit to the law office he had listed on Johnson County court records, it turned out to be a UPS store where he keeps a PO Box.

We did, however, reach Mr. Laugeson. The VA hospital wouldn't let us visit him, so we talked to him by phone .

“I didn't know they were taking my good stuff out. I thought they were just taking trash,” he said.

Laugeson told us that the ex- minister and attorney Barker wanted him to sell the home.

“They kept telling me to do that because I was so old,” he said. “I wanted to stay there until I couldn't take care of it no more.

That's what these folks want as well. Just this week Laugeson signed papers ordering Barker to cease and desist any activity at Laugeson's home. Laugeson also transferred power of attorney to Gould, a friend who says all she wants to do is help the vet stay in the home he loves.

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  • Joe

    The lawyer for the ex-pastor had no right to be involved. He was not granted power of attorney and only one person should be able to give him that power and it isn’t the ex-pastor who is now in jail.

    • Jennifer

      Yes, the ex-pastor is in Jail. He brought the attorney into the picture a few years back and has been a problem ever since. Always asking Louie about his assets. We are not certain, as we have no communication with either the attorney or the pastor, if he assumed it or if the ex-pastor assigned him as an agent. However, neither one of them was supposed to do anything unless he was found incompetent, which he most certainly is NOT! He is merely in the hospital for heart surgery. And thank you Joe for your comment, like your opinion!

  • Tamia

    I think this news story is very deceiving! I have lived down the street from Louie for nearly 30 years and that place as ALWAYS been an eye sore. This is no recent development, he has never taken care of the place. I seem to remember the city of Merriam condemning the house a few years back, not sure how he got out of that one.

    • Jennifer

      I don’t understand how deceiving Tamia. The story was about his pastor and the pastor’s attorney robbing him blind, while he is in the VA hospital. Both are verifiable and easily done. Nor do I understand your point. Louie is a hoarder, which is a recognized mental condition, caused by trauma. Possibly brought on by his TBI experienced during Vietnam. Does this mean that someone can take everything he owns, his life, his home? My opinion, considering this, it makes the matter worse! More trauma is not what he needs, especially when in the hospital after heart surgery. The intent of the news story is to heighten awareness that this can and does happen, in this case to very trusting souls and easily, sadly. One news station informed us it happens so often they cannot report on the stories (would be all they do) – THANKFULLY FOX 4 did NOT feel this way. I know it sure has made me look closer at my affairs and estate. Oh, and it was also about the very good people, many neighbors, who are not judgmental but caring. Probably because we know, we can’t cast too many stones ourselves…

  • Janie

    Watch out for this attorney. He caused someone in my life to have to face 2 warrants for their arrest due to his inability to manage his business properly. After multiple threats to report his poor performance, he reluctantly returned a portion of prepaid fees for the services he did not complete after dragging a 6 month issue out for 4 years.

    • Jennifer

      Holy Smokes Janie! So sorry you had to experience that too! He is AWFUL! Lost his license in MO totally it sounds… last heard has it in KS but possibly “under review”. Sure is hiding – usually means something! In addition to worthless! Shame is, if he just do his job… HE WOULDN’T NEED TO STEAL OR SCREW OVER PEOPLE.

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