John Mininno

John Mininno
Of Counsel,
Florio Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli Tipton & Taylor, LLC

A return to law

A decade ago, New Jersey trial lawyer John Mininno left a successful law practice to build a novel startup company – the NHCAGroup. Its mission: disrupt Medicare fraud, a billion dollar criminal industry.

In March 2016, techy “Wired” magazine featured Mininno describing how his company used “data, algorithms, geeks and analytics to troll a ‘treasure trove’ of newly available Medicare billing data.” The feature went on to conclude that his platform transformed a “long-odds game into a target-rich discovery process with gumshoe work on the back end to successfully identify likely fraudsters.”

“Lawtrepreneur” John Mininno returns to practicing law at prominent New Jersey law firm.

After spotting the potential bad guys, Mininno’s team dusted off a little-known but centuries-old law called “Qui tam.” This law, first enacted by President Abraham Lincoln, allows private individuals or companies to identify, investigate and bring whistleblower lawsuits on behalf of taxpayers to recoup money stolen by fraudsters. Mininno’s startup was the first to professionalize taxpayer fraud fighting into a for-profit model.

“The journey of leaving the traditional practice of law and joining the ‘lawtrepreneur’ troops was rewarding,” says Mininno. “Although I shelved my legal hat for the last decade and focused my energies as a CEO of a startup, I remained totally connected to the legal industry. The day to day work of privatized fraud fighting involved working with top data engineers, healthcare informaticists and other domain experts. But once the cases were filed, we worked closely with a talented legal team consisting of the country’s high-profile litigation lawyers. Our ‘dream team’ included legendary ‘gun-slinging’ Texas trial lawyer Sam Baxter, the incomparable Mark Lanier and iconic former Solicitor General Ken Starr. Over the last decade these legal giants have become friends and mentors. Operating the company provided me an opportunity to collaborate with great lawyers on complex cases in courtrooms across the country.”

Unfortunately, unforeseen political headwinds eventually proved insurmountable. In fact, this past July, Reuters wrote his company’s “Obituary” stating the fatal flaw in his “innovative way to profit by policing fraud” was the government’s “opposition” to it.

“We had buy-in from all but a few in the government,” says Mininno. “But then, like concrete, the D.C. bureaucracy set against us. In some ways, I understand as bureaucracies historically blanche when asked to jettison old cultural beliefs and stereotypical notions – especially when looking to protect their turf. When it came to privatized fraud fighting, the D.C. bureaucrats had never encountered a professional whistleblower company like ours – privately funded with venture dollars, using geeks and new analytic tools, wrangling big Medicare data sets and hunting for the big-game trophy.”

In the end, their unicorn aspirations turned into an albatross. “We moved too fast, and thought too outside of the box,” he says. “The Feds were not ready to embrace edgy private sector competition. It’s sad. When the private sector competes with the government, good things happen: Think the Post Office vs. FedEx.”

He chuckled, noting that his company’s “Obituary” had a silver lining. During his 10-year entrepreneurial run, taxpayers recouped close to a billion dollars from the cases he helped initiate. He also developed and maintained deep relationships to a national network of top legal talent.

Mininno now takes his legal talent, network and experience to former N.J. Governor James Florio’s full-service law firm, which is one of the most respected in the tristate area. There, he will be “of counsel” as a member of the firm’s formidable litigation team. Florio Perrucci’s 50 plus strong attorneys are located in offices throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. Mininno will be based in the Cherry Hill office, which is managed by well-known South Jersey attorney Louis Cappelli, Jr. Mininno’s “of counsel” role will also allow him to pursue other ventures and continue in his charitable work with his wife, Dr. Talar Kaloustian.

“Over the last 30 years, I have learned that many times the smartest strategy is to keep a dispute from escalating into an expensive courtroom battle and containing ‘headline risk’ in the court of public opinion,” says Mininno of his legal strategy. “Doing so requires bright, innovative legal work that demonstrates that there is no choice but to settle. Diligence, preparation, and attention to detail drive positive outcomes.”

When a dispute must be tried, the talented and accomplished legal team at the Florio firm have the experience and history of achieving outstanding results for clients in state and federal courts, he says.

“I bring a 30-year track record working on complex litigation from the unique perspective as both a lawyer and as a client entrepreneur,” adds Mininno. “Joining the talented Florio firm creates a ‘1 + 1 = 3’ force multiplier opportunity for the firm’s clients.”

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