Daniel Mark Porush (born February 1957) is an American businessman and former stock broker who ran a "pump and dump" stock fraud scheme in the 1990s. In 1999, he was convicted of securities fraud and money laundering at the Stratton Oakmont brokerage, for which he served 39 months in prison. The character of Donny Azoff portrayed by Jonah Hill in the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street was loosely based on Porush, although Porush described the portrayal as inaccurate. After prison, Porush became involved with a Florida-based medical supply company, Med-Care, which was the subject of federal investigations.
Early life and education
Danny Porush, the son of a doctor, was raised in a Jewish family in Lawrence, Nassau County, New York. Porush graduated from Lawrence Woodmere Academy. He attended Dickinson College and Boston University but did not graduate. According to New York magazine, Porush then "bounced from job to job, working for, and starting up, a variety of small businesses."
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. In 1994, Porush took over as Chairman and CEO of Stratton after Belfort was barred from the industry.
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 "convicted of insider trading, perjury, conspiracy and money laundering and ordered to pay $200 million in restitution." He was sentenced to four years in prison and Belfort was sentenced to two years. Porush was released on probation in 2004 after serving 39 months.
In 2013, the story of Stratton Oakmont as told by Jordan Belfort in his 2007 memoir was made into Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street. In the film, Jonah Hill portrays a character named Donnie Azoff, loosely based on Porush. Porush has stated that many of the movie'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, and approved, 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. The case was initially dismissed in federal court for lack of specific proof. However, the lawsuit was refiled and was accepted for federal court when the initial whistleblower was joined by two more former Med-Care employees alleging the company of defrauding the federal government. The lawsuit alleged that telemarketers, under the guidance of Porush, made unsolicited calls to citizens and used high-pressure sales tactics to push them to accept medical supplies they may not want nor need. On January 14, 2015, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents, Florida fraud department, and local police "raided the offices of Med-Care Diabetic & Medical Supplies" in Boca Raton and removed boxes of files. On January 16, 2015, the attorneys for Med-Care filed a motion in court to disqualify the whilstleblowers' attorneys for professional conflict of interest. The case was later dismissed.
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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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It said the company cold-called seniors and other consumers, pushing them to accept medical equipment they may not have wanted or needed... The complaint alleges telemarketers were guided by Danny Porush, “who is an expert in running high-pressure telemarketing operations.”
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