Shkreli jury be­gins de­lib­er­a­tions in fed­eral fraud trial

Cape Breton Post - - World -

A jury be­gan de­lib­er­a­tions Mon­day at the fed­eral se­cu­ri­ties fraud trial of Martin Shkreli, the for­mer biotech CEO best known for hik­ing up the price of a life-sav­ing drug and for trolling his crit­ics on so­cial me­dia.

The de­lib­er­a­tions follow about a month of tes­ti­mony in fed­eral court in Brook­lyn, most it from in­vestors in two failed hedge funds run by the de­fen­dant. The wit­nesses told ju­rors that the 34-year-old Shkreli con­cealed the fact that he lost mil­lions of dol­lars and made them the vic­tim of a scheme to pay them back with worth­less stock in a startup drug com­pany.

The trial “has ex­posed Martin Shkreli for who he re­ally is _ a con man who stole mil­lions,’’ a fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor, Jac­que­lyn Ka­sulis, said in clos­ing ar­gu­ments last week.

The de­fence coun­tered by ar­gu­ing that the in­vestors weren’t vic­tims be­cause they ended up re­coup­ing their money when the drug com­pany went pub­lic. Some even made large prof­its when the stock price took off.

“Who lost any­thing? No­body,’’ de­fence at­tor­ney Ben Braf­man said in his clos­ing ar­gu­ment. Some in­vestors had to ad­mit on the wit­ness stand that part­ner­ing with Shkreli was “the great­est in­vest­ment I’ve ever made,’’ he added.

Be­fore his ar­rest in 2015 in the se­cu­ri­ties fraud case, Shkreli be­came no­to­ri­ous for pur­chas­ing the rights to a drug called Dara­prim and promptly rais­ing the price by 5,000 per cent, from $13.50 to $750 per pill. The de­fen­dant, who didn’t tes­tify, also came into the trial with a rep­u­ta­tion for trolling his crit­ics on so­cial me­dia to a de­gree that got him kicked off Twit­ter and earned him the moniker “Pharma Bro.’’

Rather than lay low like his lawyers wanted, Shkreli got into the act, us­ing Face­book to bash pros­e­cu­tors and news or­ga­ni­za­tions cov­er­ing his case. In one re­cent post, he wrote, “My case is a silly witch hunt per­pe­trated by self-serv­ing pros­e­cu­tors . ... Drain the swamp. Drain the sewer that is the (De­part­ment of Jus­tice).’’

Shkreli faces eight counts of se­cu­ri­ties fraud, con­spir­acy to com­mit se­cu­ri­ties fraud and con­spir­acy to com­mit wire fraud. If con­victed of the most se­ri­ous counts, he faces up to 20 years in prison but would likely re­ceive far less time un­der sen­tenc­ing guide­lines.

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