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Joplin couple sentenced for health care fraud

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A Joplin husband and wife, who operated long-term residential care facility Joplin River of Life, were sentenced in federal court April 13 for health care fraud, according to a news release from Beth Phillips, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Robert Dupont Jr., 66, was sentenced to five years in federal prison without parole, and his wife, Laverne Dupont, 75, was sentenced to five years of probation.

The Duponts were each convicted by a trial jury in September of one count of conspiring to commit health care fraud and one count of committing health care fraud.

Because of a 2002 criminal conviction for his role in a conspiracy to defraud the Medicare and Medicaid programs, for which he was sentenced to 21 months in prison, Robert Dupont was excluded from participating in federal health care programs.

However, Robert Dupont acted as decision-maker for Joplin River of Life Ministries Inc. while serving his prison sentence. Dupont founded the nonprofit organization shortly before going to jail, according to the release.

During his stint in prison, Laverne Dupont served as executive director of the organization, while conspiring with her husband to hide his operation, the sentence said.

Between September 2003 and November 2006, Joplin River of Life received approximately $725,125 in Medicaid funds that Robert Dupont controlled, even though he was excluded from participating in the Missouri Medicaid program. He also fraudulently received roughly $51,626 between August 2004 and October 2006 in wages paid by the Missouri Medicaid program to Joplin River of Life. Between Janunary 2003 and December 2006, Laverne Dupont received approximately $170,000 in wages from Joplin River of Life, according to the sentence.

Additionally, the Duponts conspired to conceal the employment of their daughter and co-defendant, Kelly Wheeler, also known as Kelley Liveoak, 48, of Joplin, who also was excluded from receiving federal program payments because of a prior criminal conviction. Wheeler pleaded guilty and was sentenced in February 2010 to three years of probation and a $3,752 order of restitution, the release said.[[In-content Ad]]


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