Published: Sat, March 10, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

'Pharma bro' Martin Shkreli has been sentenced to 7 years in prison

'Pharma bro' Martin Shkreli has been sentenced to 7 years in prison

The self-promoting pharmaceutical executive notorious for trolling critics online was convicted in a securities fraud case previous year unconnected to the price increase dispute.

Martin Shkreli, the notorious "Pharma Bro" who raised the price of a potentially life-saving drug used by AIDS patients 5,000%, was sentenced Friday in a NY federal court to seven years for defrauding investors in two failed hedge funds.

The judge, Kiyo Matsumoto, said her decision did not have to do with Shkreli's reputation, track record with drug pricing, or politics.

His lawyers argued that he deserved 12 to 18 months.

The asset forfeiture decision is only the latest bump in the road for Shkreli, who found himself with his bond revoked and in jail last September after a odd post on his Facebook account in which he placed an open bounty of $5,000 on a piece of Hillary Clinton's hair.

"I took down Martin Shkreli with my disgraceful and shameful actions", he said.

Federal prosecutors had requested at least 15 years after Shkreli was convicted of securities fraud and securities fraud conspiracy. "I took down Martin Shkreli".

One supporter said Shkreli demonstrated kindness by adopting a cat called Trashy, while another insisted his social media contributions were valuable and akin to "performance art". While he was chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals in 2015, he jacked up the price of the life-saving drug Daraprim, a treatment for HIV patients, from $13.50 a pill to $750.

Shkreli seemed to treat the case like a big joke. The evidence showed that Shkreli lied to investors over six years, by hiding the collapse of one fund and the near failure of a second, and by claiming to manage more than US$125 million, when the real figure was closer to US$1.1 million.

A defence lawyer for "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli (SHKREL'-ee) says his client shouldn't be sentenced to a more severe punishment because he is outspoken. The case was unrelated to the 2015 furor in which he was accused of price-gouging, but his arrest was seen as rough justice by the many enemies he made with his smug and abrasive behavior online and off.

U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto also ruled Monday that Shkreli must forfeit the money he made from his fraud - almost $7.4 million - and pay a $75,000 fine.

But "there is a need to make clear not just to Mr. Shkreli but also to other participants that fraud and manipulation are serious offenses that will incur correspondingly serious penalties", she added.

A judge must weigh whether the pharmaceutical company CEO is a manipulator who conned wealthy investors or a misunderstood eccentric who made those same investors even wealthier. He was convicted last August of defrauding investors in hedge funds he oversaw by misleading them about his track record, along with a fraud scheme related to Retrophin, a company he founded.

The sentencing caps a long, public saga for Shkreli, who is widely reviled for drastically raising the price of a cheap, decades-old drug, as well as provocative and offensive online antics, including harassing women.

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