DANIEL OCASIO, ESQ.
Daniel appears in the
Top 100 Attorneys Magazine
Daniel Ocasio, Esq.
He’s a guardian of justice, a protector of the people, and a champion of whistleblowers. This is Daniel, “Danny,” Ocasio, a former government prosecutor who cofounded a law firm devoted exclusively to representing whistleblowers in actions filed under the Federal False Claims Act. As managing partner of DJO Whistleblower Law Group, Danny is fearlessly leading the charge to right the wrongs perpetrated by
fraudsters across the health care, pharmaceutical, medical device, and financial industries. With over 100 cases filed, he’s reigned victorious against some of the biggest health care entities in the country including a $40.5 million settlement against Apria Healthcare. Most attorneys with such a remarkable record might take personal pride in their own accomplishments, but in Danny’s eyes, the whistleblowers are the courageous heroes in the battle against good and evil. And his firm is focused on doing precisely—and only—this.
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in New York, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, the DJO Whistleblower Law Group was created with the mission to assist individuals in reporting fraudulent activity. The firm is comprised of highly experienced lawyers, investigators, and former whistleblowers who strive to deliver the highest monetary reward possible for those who are willing help to expose fraud. As this passionate group of attorneys work tirelessly on behalf of whistleblowers everywhere, for Danny, the respiratory industry is public enemy #1 right now, and he’s determined to eradicate the systemic fraud and corruption that plagues it, costing taxpayers billions of dollars.
Danny sat down with us to share more about his commitment to whistleblowers, his ongoing battle against the respiratory industry, and the fulfillment of fighting on behalf of the good guys.
As a former government prosecutor, what led you to cofound a firm that specializes solely in representing whistleblowers?
When I worked in the corruption division of the Office of Government Ethics in Puerto Rico, I indicted the attorney general on corruption charges. That’s the only trial that I’d lost, although public opinion said I’d won. I took that loss really hard. Shortly after, in early 2017, I met Christopher Piacentile. He said, “I’ve heard your name in circles. You should interview with our law firm.” So, I did. At that office, before we founded DJO, we started investigating respiratory corruption, and Apria was just the tip of the iceberg. That industry is full of systemic fraud and noncompliance on equipment, and the taxpayers are the ones footing the astronomical bill. That irks me to no end. I was raised by my grandparents. They survived the Great Depression, and a penny goes a long way, so feeding off taxpayers just boils my blood to no end. I cannot tolerate it.
Tell us about the Apria case and how it’s a prime example of the power of whistleblowers.
I started working on this in 2017 as part of the litigation team. Christopher was the originating and lead investigator. This case is a prime example of how powerful whistleblowers are in enacting change and demanding justice. Apria routinely billed Medicare and other programs for non-invasive ventilators (NIV) with the knowledge that they were not being used at all. Further, respiratory therapists did not conduct regular visits to patients to confirm use, and Apria improperly billed federal health programs these rentals to obtain reimbursement for more expensive equipment. Managers at Apria directed salespeople to use co-pay waivers to persuade patients to rent NIVs from Apria instead of other suppliers, without an assessment to determine if they meet the criteria for the waivers. The case settled in December 2020. If not for my current director of investigations, who uncovered this fraud along with the courageous whistleblowers who brought this to our attention, I have no doubt that Apria would still be conducting these egregious illegal, unethical practices.
You’ve remained keenly focused on the area of respiratory fraud. Why is this important to you?
Christopher, our director of investigations, and I uncovered that this industry is not compartmentalized to one company. It’s systemic across the board, with companies purposely gaming the system and going after taxpayer money just to fatten their own wallets. Many companies in this space have an institutional practice to target Medicare patients, and it sickens me. That’s why I’m driven to righting this wrong against individuals, and, really, humanity. And here’s a message to all the respiratory companies cheating the system, we’re coming for you.
To what do you attribute your success in this challenging area of law?
There are many people who have helped me get to where I am, and certainly my experience as a government prosecutor plays a great part, but the main reason I’ve had success in this niche area of the law is that fate linked me up with Christopher Piacentile. A good whistleblower case starts with a solid investigation, and he is truly the best investigator in the health care field in the U.S.—and my best friend. We complement each other so well that it has allowed us to zero in on the different schemes and break them apart in such a way that we can present the best possible case to the government.
What drives you to keep fighting the good fight, Danny?
My 97-year-old grandmother passed away two weeks after I passed my bar exam. She raised me, saw me through law school, and was just waiting for me to finish. We were poor, and she’d give me “wish sandwiches,” saying, “Here are two pieces of bread. You can wish for whatever you want on them.” I know what it feels like going to bed on an empty stomach. That’s why I’m going to work harder than anyone else in the room. Every day, I get to look in the mirror and say that I represent the good guys, the brave women and men who come forward when they witness a company ripping off the federal government. They drive me, and I am proud to represent them.
Daniel Ocasio, Esq.
Attorney and Managing Partner
DJO Whistleblower Law Group
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