Daniel Mark Porush (born February 1957) is an American entrepreneur and former stock broker who is known for his supervision of a "pump and dump" stock fraud scheme in the 1990s. In 1999, as the president of Stratton Oakmont brokerage house, Porush was convicted of securities fraud and money laundering, for which he served 39 months in prison. The character of Donnie Azoff in the popular 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street was loosely based on Porush.
Early life and education
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In the late 1980s, Porush helped Jordan Belfort found Stratton Oakmont, a Long Island, New York "over-the-counter" (OTC) brokerage house in which Belfort was chairman and Porush was president. Stratton Oakmont specialized in selling "penny stocks" and underwriting initial public offerings for small companies, including for Steve Madden (a childhood friend of Porush), Master Glazier's Karate International Inc, Dualstar Technologies, Select Media Communications, United Leisure Corporation and Questron Technology.
Beginning in 1989, Stratton Oakmont became the subject of numerous disciplinary actions by the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It was determined that Stratton Oakmont was involved in pump and dump stock fraud that involved artificially inflating the price of stocks through false and misleading positive statements, in order to sell cheaply purchased stock at a higher price. Once the operators of the scheme "dumped" their overvalued shares, the price fell and investors lost their money. In December 1996, the NASD permanently expelled Stratton Oakmont and barred Porush as well as fined him $250,000. The NASD rejected Porush's claim that he was only "a figurehead," citing him as the salesperson with the largest individual allocation. In their decision to bar Porush and his head trader, Steven P. Sanders, the NASD wrote that "[they] continue to deny responsibility and exhibit no remorse for [their] misconduct, and, but for the bar, would continue to pose an on-going risk to the investing public."
Following a federal indictment, Porush and Belfort pleaded guilty to 10 counts of securities fraud and money laundering in 1999. In an exchange for reduced sentences, Porush and Belfort cooperated with the federal investigations of their colleagues. Porush was sentenced to four years in prison, and was released on probation in 2004 after serving 39 months.
In 2013, the story of Stratton Oakmont was made into Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street based upon Jordan Belfort's 2007 memoir of the same title. In the film, Jonah Hill portrays a character named Donnie Azoff, loosely based on Porush as described in Belfort's book. Porush has stated that many of the book's incidents are fictional. The character's name was changed during movie development after Porush threatened to sue Paramount Pictures if he was depicted.
Following his release from prison in 2004, Porush became involved with a Boca Raton, Florida-based medical supply and medical equipment company which, according to Forbes magazine, has operated under the names Med-Care Diabetic & Medical Supplies, Christian Diabetics and the Christian Healthcare Network. The Med-Care company was the subject of a congressional hearing on Medicare fraud in April 2013. In May 2014, Porush's involvement with Med-Care was cited as reason for a portion of the federal "Stop Scams Act of 2014" which would require Medicare providers to disclose their ownership interests. According to Med-Care's attorney, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services had been informed and had previously reviewed Porush's role with the company. In 2014, Porush and five other personnel of the Med-Care company were named in a whistleblower lawsuit alleging fraudulent Medicare claims, but the case was dismissed in federal court for lack of any specific proof. On January 14, 2015, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents "raided the offices of Med-Care Diabetic & Medical Supplies" in Boca Raton. Dozens of agents from the FBI, Florida fraud department, and local police closed entrances to the building that houses Med-Care, removing boxes of files. An FBI spokesman said the agency is conducting "law enforcement activity in the vicinity."
Porush married his first wife Nancy in 1986 and they had three children together. They divorced in 2000.
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After five years at Boston University, he left without getting a degree and bounced from job to job, working for, and starting up, a variety of small businesses, including an ambulance company called SureRide Ambulette.
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