On the hierarchy of 2019 villains, Martin Shkreli ranks fairly low. But there was a time way back in 2015 when Shkreli, the so-called “Pharma Bro” best known for jacking up the prices of life-saving HIV/AIDS drugs by more than 5,000 percent, was dubbed “the most hated man in America,” and seemed deeply proud of it. Now, Shkreli is reportedly planning on making a comeback of sorts from the confines of prison, where he is currently serving a seven-year sentence for securities fraud.
According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Shkreli, who is serving time in a Fort Dix, NJ, prison, is still heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of Phoenixus AG (formerly Turing Pharmaceuticals), the drug company that he helped found. He has regular access to a cell phone, which he uses to read about developments in pharmaceutical research and communicate with company employees (in fact, he reportedly fired a former executive while he was in jail, per the report).
Shkreli was arrested in 2015 for lying to investors and bilking them out of millions of dollars under false pretenses. In 2017, he was sentenced to seven years in jail for securities fraud and was hit with a $75,000 fine, and reportedly wept openly in court.
Even though he is serving time in prison, Shkreli is still a company shareholder at Phoenixus, and is reportedly under investigation with the FBI for continuing to be involved with the company. (Executives at the Swiss company have also reportedly been interviewed by the FBI.) Per the Wall Street Journal, Shkreli is apparently interested in pivoting from selling drugs at jacked-up prices to investing more heavily in research and development for rare pharmaceuticals, a strategy he plans to pursue when he’s released from prison.
In addition to his alleged business activities, Shkreli is also reportedly using Twitter (albeit under a fake handle), from which he was permanently banned in 2017 for harassing a number of journalists. He is also blogging and crowdsourcing Spanish translations of Meek Mill lyrics on Facebook (largely as a way to “impress my local hombres” in the prison’s “Latin American community,” according to Shkreli’s Facebook post).
Needless to say, all of this behavior runs directly counter to prison rules, because as anyone who regularly watches Orange Is the New Black knows, cellphones are considered contraband in federal prisons. It is also not kosher to run a business from directly behind bars, per the Fort Dix FCI prison handbook, which explicitly states that “telephones are not to be used to conduct a business. Conducting a business, in any way, is a prohibited act.”
It remains to be seen whether the Wall Street Journal story will effectively slow Shkreli’s roll, or if he’ll remain as indefatigable (re: flagrantly criminal) as ever. Either way, Shkreli is slated for release from prison in 2023.