Jury Begins Deliberations In Shkreli Trial

July 31, 2017

The fate of Martin Shkreli, the so-called pharma-bro whom many Americans love to hate, now rests in the hands of jurors at a Brooklyn Federal courthouse.

Shkreli — who has been free on bail — faces eight counts of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud. The charges stem from his management of drug company Retrophin and hedge funds MSMB Capital Management and MSMB Healthcare.

Arrested in late 2015, the 34-year-old had already gained notoriety for boosting the price of AIDS drug Daraprim by 5,000 percent to $750 a pill when he was chief of Turing Pharmaceuticals.

Shkreli’s pugnacious attitude toward journalists, lawmakers and others, largely through social media where he freely hurls insults, hasn’t helped his reputation.

That reputation made selecting impartial jurors a challenge, with potential jurors calling him a “snake,” “a price gouger” and “the most hated man in America,” reports The New York Times. More than 200 potential jurors had to be dismissed over the course of two days, says ABC News.

Before raising the price of Daraprim in 2015, which has nothing to do with the trial, prosecutors say Shkreli concealed the fact that he lost millions of dollars of investors’ money and tried to pay them back with worthless stock in a drug startup, reports The Los Angeles Times.

In her closing argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alixandra Smith told jurors Shkreli “lied to investors to get their money into the funds and then lied to them so they wouldn’t take it out,” according to The Associated Press.

Shkreli’s defense attorneys say investors did not lose money, indeed some raked in big profits once the drug company went public.

Attorney Ben Brafman acknowledged Shkreli may not be well liked. “In terms of people skills, he’s impossible,” he said. But he argued that does not make him a “Ponzi guy,” reports AP.

Shkreli is facing decades of prison time if he is convicted. As NPR’s Laurel Wamsley has reported, “five counts each carry maximum sentences of 20 years in prison; the other three are a maximum of five years each.” The LA Times says sentencing guidelines mean Shkreli would likely receive far less prison time.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.