SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The owner of the group home for the mentally ill where 10 people died in a fire says he has nothing to hide, despite questions about his role in the facility and what started the blaze.
Questions have arisen about property owner Robert J. DuPont role's in the Anderson Guest Home because he was convicted in 2003 of participating in a scheme to bilk Medicare. Under Missouri law, anyone convicted of a crime involving a health care facility is not allowed to be an "operator" or "principal" in a long-term care facility.
"I don't have anything to hide," DuPont, 62, said in an interview published Saturday in the Springfield News-Leader. "Everything I do and have done is under the watchful eye of the government."
He did not respond to repeated calls Sunday from The Associated Press seeking additional comment. He told the News-Leader he has avoided the media because he did not want to talk about his past.
A few years ago, DuPont formed the nonprofit Joplin-based River of Life Ministries, which ran the Anderson home and three others like it in southwest Missouri. The group lists DuPont's wife, LaVerne, as a board director.
DuPont, owner of the group home's building and land, said he believes it met all state-required safety precautions. The home had smoke alarms, but it was not required to have sprinklers.
"State inspectors were here all the time -- electrical wire inspections, health inspections, fire inspections," he said.
State Fire Marshal Randy Cole has said faulty electrical wiring may have sparked the blaze, but evidence was destroyed in the fire.