December 14, 2006
Joplin, Mo. — Attorney General Jay Nixon today filed a civil lawsuit in Jasper County Circuit Court against Robert J. Dupont Jr., Laverne D. Dupont and Joplin River of Life Ministries Inc. for allegedly defrauding the Missouri Medicaid program of more than $689,000 over a three-year period. Joplin River of Life Ministries operates four group homes in Jasper and McDonald counties; the Anderson Guest House in McDonald County was the site of a Nov. 27 fire that killed 10 people and destroyed the facility.
While Laverne Dupont is listed as the executive director of Joplin River of Life Ministries Inc., her husband Robert directs operations of the ministries, Nixon said. In 2003, Dupont was excluded for 20 years from the Medicaid program because of a felony conviction for healthcare fraud.
The lawsuit alleges the defendants submitted false statements to the state of Missouri on the Joplin River of Life Ministries applications filed with the Department of Health and Senior Services to operate the ministries' facilities. The applications concealed the fact that Robert Dupont was a principal in the operation of the ministries. Nixon said the River of Life Ministries was formed by Dupont in 2002 soon after his guilty plea to conceal his continued role as a principal.
"The defendants concealed this material fact which excluded this organization from receiving Medicaid payments," Nixon said. "We are asking the court to order the defendants to repay these improperly obtained payments to the state and pay other appropriate damages and penalties."
On Dec. 11, Nixon sent a letter to the Missouri Department of Mental Health and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, urging those agencies to begin license revocation procedures for the Joplin River of Life Ministries group homes.
The lawsuit seeks restitution of $689,490.79 to Medicaid to cover the amount of payments made to Joplin River of Life Ministries since Aug. 20, 2003, the date on which Robert Dupont was excluded from the Medicaid program.
Nixon also is asking the court to order the defendants to pay treble damages, as allowed by state law. The Attorney General also is seeking unspecified civil monetary damages from the defendants.