Martin Shkreli, the hedge fund manager turned pharmaceutical entrepreneur once dubbed “the most hated man in America” has been found guilty on three of eight federal charges that he deceived investors in a pair of failed hedge funds.
The jury of seven women and five men reached their verdict on the fifth day of deliberations after a month-long trial.
Shkreli, nicknamed “Pharma Bro” for his willfully provocative behaviour, faced up to 20 years behind bars on the charges of securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Shkreli told “lies upon lies,” once claiming he had $40m in a funds that had about $300 in the bank, assistant US attorney Alixandra Smith said in closing arguments.
Shkreli achieved notoriety in 2015 after the 34-year-old increased the price of a life-saving drug, Daraprim, used by people with Aids and others suffering from toxoplasmosis, by 5,000% overnight, shortly after his pharmaceutical startup bought the commercial rights to it.
The move led to BBC calling him America’s most hated man. Even Donald Trump weighed in, calling Shkreli a “spoiled brat” and his business practices “disgusting”.
Seeming to revel in his notoriety, Shkreli doubled down telling The Guardian: “There are very few people who care about toxoplasmosis more than me.”
He reinforced his notoriety with a troll-like internet presence, especially towards female journalists and celebrities.
But the drug pricing scandal is not why he was on trial. Shkreli was arrested in December 2015 in a early morning raid and led away in handcuffs, accused of lying to investors after making poor bets on the stock market via his hedge funds and then illegally paying people back in cash and stock from pharmaceutical businesses he had created. According to prosecutors, he was running a form of pyramid, or Ponzi, scheme.
Shkreli’s provocative posturing was on full display during his four weeks of testimony in July, 2017, at his trial in federal court in Brooklyn, New York.
Judge Kiyo Matsumoto ordered Shkreli to stop commenting on the trial during the early days of the hearing after he called prosecutors “junior varsity” and said people “blame me for everything” in a rant to reporters.
He was barred from Twitter after harassing a female reporter but appears to have come back with several aliases. The latest, @SamTheManTP, appeared irritated with delay in the verdict, tweeting: “Cmon gimme dat verdict”, and “yeah I’m innocent stupid.” On Thursday, @SamTheManTP tweeted: “Trump has been flawless since election. Not one mistake made, pretty amazing. #flawless”
At the trial, his high profile lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, who successfully defended former International Monetary Fund boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a sexual assault case, claimed Shkreli merely made some honest mistakes and was doing business with the best of intentions. His client was “a genius” who reimbursed his investors and made many of them very rich.