News and Press Releases

joplin husband, wife convicted of health care fraud

September 30, 2010

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Joplin, Mo., husband and wife who operated five long-term residential care facilities in southwest Missouri were convicted in federal court today of health care fraud.

Robert J. Dupont, Jr., 65, and his wife, Laverne D. Dupont, 74, were each found guilty of one count of conspiring to commit health care fraud and one count of committing health care fraud. Robert Dupont was acquitted of the money laundering charges that were contained in an April 2, 2008, federal indictment.

Robert Dupont, who was excluded from participating in any federal health care program as a result of his 2002 criminal conviction for his role in a conspiracy to defraud the Medicare and Medicaid federal health care programs, for which he was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison. Robert Dupont nevertheless directed the operations of five long-term residential care facilities while he was in prison and after his release. Robert Dupont functioned as the ultimate decision-maker for Joplin River of Life, a nonprofit organization he founded shortly before serving his federal prison sentence.

Laverne Dupont, who was ostensibly the executive director of Joplin River of Life, conspired with her husband to conceal his operation and control of the organization.

The Duponts also conspired to conceal the employment of their daughter and co-defendant Kelley A. Wheeler, also known as Kelley Liveoak, 47, of Joplin, who was excluded from receiving federal program payments to cover salary, expenses or fringe benefits because of her prior criminal conviction. Wheeler pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Feb. 23, 2010, to three years of probation and ordered to pay $3,752 in restitution.

U.S. District Judge Greg Kays delivered the verdicts today following a bench trial that was held at the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mo., on Monday, Sept. 20, 2010.

Between Sept. 5, 2003, and Nov. 6, 2006, Joplin River of Life received approximately $725,125 in Medicaid funds that Robert Dupont controlled while he was excluded from participation in the Missouri Medicaid program. Between Aug. 20, 2004, and Oct. 5, 2006, Robert Dupont fraudulently received approximately $51,626 in wages paid by the Missouri Medicaid program to Joplin River of Life, although he was excluded from receiving such payments. Between Jan. 1, 2003, and Dec. 31, 2006, Laverne Dupont received approximately $170,000 in wages from Joplin River of Life.

In addition to the conspiracy, Robert and Laverne Dupont were found guilty of health care fraud. They executed a scheme to defraud the Missouri Medicaid program by concealing the fact that principals in the operation of Joplin River of Life had been convicted of an offense related to the operation of a long-term health care facility, and that principals in the operation of Joplin River of Life were excluded from participation in Medicare or Medicaid programs.

Under federal statutes, the Duponts are each subject to a sentence of up to 15 years in federal prison without parole. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher. It was investigated by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Missouri State Fire Marshal and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

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