Former pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli, better known as the “Pharma Bro” and “America’s most hated man,” was found guilty on three of eight counts of securities fraud Friday. Shkreli faces up to 20 years in prison, but will likely get a much lighter sentence, per the Washington Post.
A jury found that Shkreli cheated investors out of more than $11 million between 2009 and 2014 in a “Ponzi-like scheme.” Prosecutors argued that Shkreli repeatedly lied to investors in two hedge funds, MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare, about their performance and assets, and he used money from his pharmaceutical company Retrophin to pay off investors and personal debts.
Shkreli also lied to his investors about graduating from Columbia University, that his hedge fund was profitable and that he hired an auditor. None of these statements were true.
The defense attorney tried to soften these claims by saying Shkreli ultimately made his wealthy investors even more wealthy, and that he would continue to do so if he is spared jail time.
After the conviction, Shkreli said outside the courtroom that he was “delighted” to be exonerated of many of the charges. “This was a witch hunt of epic proportions,” he said, despite being found guilty of fraud on three counts.
Two years prior to this conviction, Shkreli’s company Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the rights to the drug Daraprim and jacked up its price 5,000 percent, from $13.50 to $750 per tablet. HIV and cancer patients had long depended on Daraprim to fight deadly parasitic infections. Shkreli never lowered the cost of the drug and haughtily rebuffed critics in the news media, the healthcare sector and Congress. (Shkreli even faced vitriol from the music community when he purchased the sole copy of the Wu-Tang Clan’s album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, for $2 million.)
Months after earning his “pharma bro” reputation and solidifying his place as the face of drug industry greed, Shkreli was arrested on fraud charges. He quickly posted the $5 million bond. When Shkreli’s trial finally began in June, the proceedings were comically slow. Three-hundred potential jurors were dismissed during jury selection, with many reprimanding Shkreli, including one who, when asked why he couldn’t serve, said, “Honestly? Because he kind of looks like a dick.”
During the trial, Shkreli ditched his lawyers and delivered an impassioned and ill-advised rant to the press, earning him a modified gag order from the judge. But Shkreli continued to deliver tirades on Facebook – “case is a silly witch hunt perpetrated by self-serving prosecutors,” he wrote recently – and after declining to testify posted a quote from Jay-Z’s “Never Change,” “plead the fifth when it comes to the farm/ I’m like a dog/ I don’t speak but I understand.”
Shkreli’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, also declined to bring any witnesses during the trial, essentially arguing this was a victimless case. At one point, Brafman noted the cruel underlying irony of the entire proceeding: Every MSMB investor who testified during the trial had previously struck a deal with Shkreli to get their money back through a combination of cash and shares in Retrophin – at a profit.