Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal ex-CEO de­fies ad­vice to keep quiet be­fore trial.

Shkreli, who raised drug cost 5,000 per­cent, is ‘ex­cited’

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY TOM HAYS

NEW YORK | “Pharma Bro” just won’t keep his mouth shut.

Even with his fed­eral se­cu­ri­ties fraud trial set to be­gin Mon­day, Martin Shkreli has bla­tantly de­fied his at­tor­neys’ ad­vice to lay low. The former phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal CEO, who be­came a pariah af­ter rais­ing the cost of a life-sav­ing drug 5,000 per­cent, has been preen­ing for cam­eras and trolling on so­cial me­dia, po­ten­tially com­pli­cat­ing his de­fense.

“I’m ex­cited,” Mr. Shkreli said of the trial in a brief phone call last week to The As­so­ci­ated Press. “I can’t wait.”

Since his high-pro­file ar­rest in late 2015, when he was led into court in a gray hoodie, Mr. Shkreli has been free on bail and free to speak his mind. He went on Twit­ter to la­bel mem­bers of Congress “im­be­ciles” for de­mand­ing to know why his com­pany, Tur­ing Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, raised the price of Dara­prim, a drug used to treat tox­o­plas­mo­sis and HIV, from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

He took to YouTube for a se­ries of lessons on chem­istry and stock mar­ket anal­y­sis. His Twit­ter posts mock­ing a free­lance jour­nal­ist turned so creepy — one showed a fake photo of him canoodling with her — that his ac­count was shut down. And on Face­book, he mused about the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing “un­justly im­pris­oned.”

Mr. Shkreli, 34, “trav­els to the beat of a very unique drum­mer,” ex­as­per­at­ed­sound­ing de­fense at­tor­ney Ben­jamin Braf­man said at a pre­trial hear­ing this month.

Le­gal ex­perts say there are ob­vi­ous rea­sons lawyers want clients fac­ing se­ri­ous crim­i­nal charges to keep quiet.

“It’s twofold: You don’t want to an­tag­o­nize the judge and you don’t want to get the at­ten­tion of the jury in a way that hurts your case,” said vet­eran New York City de­fense at­tor­ney Ger­ald Le­f­court.

(On Mon­day, sev­eral po­ten­tial ju­rors told U.S. Dis­trict Judge Kiyo Mat­sumoto they can’t be fair to­ward Mr. Shkreli, with one say­ing that she knew him as “the most hated man in Amer­ica” for his price goug­ing. Judge Mat­sumoto dis­missed her and sev­eral other po­ten­tial ju­rors af­ter they made neg­a­tive com­ments about Mr. Shkreli dur­ing jury se­lec­tion.)

Columbia law pro­fes­sor John Cof­fee com­pared the sit­u­a­tion to Pres­i­dent Trump’s un­ruly tweet­ing habits.

“A lawyer can cau­tion him,” he said. “But just like Trump, he doesn’t have to lis­ten.”

Though Mr. Shkreli’s no­to­ri­ety came from Dara­prim, the fed­eral se­cu­ri­ties fraud case is un­re­lated. Pros­e­cu­tors say that af­ter Mr. Shkreli lost mil­lions of dol­lars in bad trades through his side busi­ness hedge fund, he looted a sec­ond phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany for $11 mil­lion to pay them back. The de­fense has ar­gued that he had good in­ten­tions.

“Every­body got paid back in this case,” his lawyer said. “What­ever else he did wrong, he ul­ti­mately made them whole.”

The de­fense has floated the pos­si­bil­ity that it would put Mr. Shkreli on the wit­ness stand to try to high­light how he grew up in a work­ing-class Al­ba­nian fam­ily in Brook­lyn, taught him­self chem­istry, in­terned at a fi­nan­cial firm founded by CNBC’s Jim Cramer and struck out on his own to be­come a ris­ing star in biotech­nol­ogy star­tups. He wanted to de­velop new life-sav­ing drugs af­ter see­ing “sev­eral class­mates and other chil­dren he knew struck down by de­bil­i­tat­ing dis­ease,” court pa­pers say.

Pros­e­cu­tors call it a ploy to por­tray the boy­ish-look­ing Mr. Shkreli as “a Ho­ra­tio Al­ger-like fig­ure who, through hard work and in­tel­li­gence, is in a po­si­tion to do great things if only the jury would ig­nore the ev­i­dence and base its verdict on sym­pa­thy.” The real Mr. Shkreli was a con man of­ten un­done by his own mouth, they say.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ex-Tur­ing Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals CEO Martin Shkreli (left) de­fied his at­tor­neys’ ad­vice to keep a low pro­file lead­ing up to his se­cu­ri­ties fraud trial.

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