Friday, December 18, 2009

Status conference set in case against Anderson Guest House owner

A status conference for the government's case against former Anderson Guest House owners Robert and Laverne Dupont is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday in Springfield, according to a notice filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

The Duponts were charged with defrauding the federal government after an investigation into the November 2006 fire that destroyed the Anderson Guest House and killed 11 people.

Robert Dupont is accused of hiding his control of the Anderson Guest House, defrauding the government, and money laundering.
An affidavit signed by Special Agent Peter H. Blackburn of the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health of Human Services said Dupont was executive director of Guest House facilities from 1993 through 2006, including the time following his 2002 conviction for Medicaid and Medicare fraud.
Facilities owned by Dupont, according to the affidavit, included the Anderson Guest House, Carl Junction Guest House, Carthage Guest House, Guest House I in Joplin, Guest House 2 in Joplin, Guest House 3 in Joplin, Lamar Guest House, and St. Louis Guest House. Apparently, the government missed the Springfield Guest House.

According to the affidavit, "Robert J. Dupont was owner and president of Guest Houses of Missouri. Inc., a for-profit corporation Dupont created in January 2000" that operated the Guest Houses in Anderson, Joplin, Carl Junction, and Carthage.

"On June 15, 2000, Dupont was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States relating to billings he caused to be submitted on behalf of Butler Guest House, Lamar Guest House, and St. Louis Guest House. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States on Feb. 13, 2002, and was sentenced on Feb. 21, 2003, t0 21 months federal imprisonment. The offense to which Dupont pleaded guilty involved his conspiracy with others to conceal his ownership and control of a company that submitted billings to Medicare and Medicaid." Because of this, the affidavit said, Dupont was excluded from participation in any federal health program, including Missouri Medicaid.

"During March 2002, shortly after Dupont's guilty plea but prior to his sentencing, Dupont formed a new corporation, Joplin River of Life Ministries that began assuming operational control over the residential care facilities," the affidavit said. "On April 10, 2002, Guest Houses of Missouri, Inc. notified the Division of Medical Services, the agency which administers Missouri's Medicaid program that as of May 1, 2002, Joplin River of Life Ministries was taking over the operation of the residential care facilities formerly operated by Guest Houses of Missouri, Inc."

The affidavit continues, "On or about April 15, 2002, JROL submitted applications to the Department of Health and Senior Services for licenses to operate long-term care facilities specifically Anderson Guest House, Carl Junction Guest House, Guest House 2, and Guest House 3." Robert Dupont and his wife Laverne were listed as owners and landlords and Robert Dupont was listed on the Joplin River of Life Ministries board.

On July 31, 2002, the company applied to participate as a Missouri Medicaid personal care provider and was approved.

"On March 19, 2003, prior to Dupont's surrender on March 21, 2003, to begin serving his federal sentence, Dupont convened and oversaw a Joplin River of Life Ministries board meeting in which he announced the employment of Laverne Dupont, his wife, as the incoming executive director of JROL and corporate documents after that date list her as executive director," according to the affidavit.

Dupont was released to a halfway house in August 2004 and completed his sentence the following month. "In contravention of state and federal law, Dupont resumed the operation and control of JROL upon his release from prison," the affidavit said. "In day to day operation of the facilities, Dupont makes unilateral hiring decisions, terminates employees, directs staffing levels, and unilaterally decides whether to accept potential residents referred to local hospitals. Dupont has prohibited facility managers from seeking decision making authority from Laverne Dupont, his wife and the individual listed as executive director of JROL, and threatened to terminate employees who fail to seek his authorization for decisions."

The affidavit concludes, "During an interview conducted on Nov. 28, 2006 (following the Anderson Guest House fire) Dupont denied any control over Joplin River of Life Ministries and asserted that he was an uncompensated employee. However, W-2, wage and tax statements filed by JROL indicate that Dupont received a salary in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005."

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