Owners of group home lose license after fire

Wednesday, June 13, 2007 | 2:00 p.m. CDT; updated 8:15 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — The owners of a group home where 11 people died in a fire will not get their state operating license back after failing to contest the revocation.

An administrative hearing judge dismissed an appeal for the Anderson Guest House because neither the owners nor an attorney attended Tuesday’s hearing asking for a delay.

The group home for the mentally ill burned down Nov. 27 in a blaze that state investigators believe smoldered in the attic’s electrical wiring before spreading through the building.

The Department of Health and Senior Services subsequently stripped the facility’s license after revelations that owner Robert DuPont had remained involved in its operations despite a ban stemming from a prior federal sentence in a Medicaid and Medicare fraud scheme.

DuPont and his wife, LaVerne, owned the building. She functioned as the executive director of Joplin River of Life Ministries Inc., which they had set up to operate several southwest Missouri group homes.

The Anderson facility and three others owned by the DuPonts all closed by January as a result of the license revocations.

LaVerne DuPont said in January that they were appealing in hopes that regaining residential care licenses would make the facilities more valuable to sell.

The DuPonts could not be reached by telephone Tuesday. Their attorney did not return a telephone message. The phone number for Joplin River of Life Ministries was disconnected.

The administrative hearing judge dismissed only the appeal of the Anderson facility’s license revocation. Separate appeals hearings involving the facilities remain scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

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