“Pharma Bro” Found Guilty of Defrauding Investors

By Brittany Greve

Martin Shkreli, a pharmaceutical executive known as the “pharma bro,” was just convicted of fraud and sentenced to seven years in prison. Though he is well-known for raising the price of Daraprim, a drug used to prevent toxoplasmosis infection in people with HIV, by 5,000 percent, Shkreli was actually charged with fraud related to his involvement with Retrophin, a pharmaceutical company he founded in 2011, and two hedge funds he ran. Trevor Hurst (‘19) said, “It’s good to see a fraudulent hedge fund go out of business.”

According to CNBC, this past August Shkreli was convicted on three of the eight counts brought against him. Though the defense argued for 12 to 18 months in prison, the prosecutors pushed for a minimum of 15 years. Although Shkreli had paid back all of his investors and ensured that there was no financial loss, the judge ruled that he is responsible for paying the government $7.36 million. The judge, Kiyo Matsumoto, also said that the government would be allowed to seize Shkreli’s assets, including a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album and a Picasso, if he was unable to come up with the $7.36 million. Shkreli originally purchased the Wu-Tang Clan album for $2 million, but one memorabilia dealer said that the price has increased exponentially.

Although Shkreli seemed “genuinely remorseful,” according to the judge, he still “repeatedly minimized” his conduct, including in statements and emails after his conviction. According to Reuters, he said, “I wanted to grow my stature and my reputation. I am here because of my gross, stupid and negligent mistakes I made.”

There were a number of supporters who wrote to the judge trying to convince her that it was Shkreli’s childhood that influenced the decisions that he made and that he was a genuinely bright child. According to a submission from a consultant hired by his lawyers that was reviewed by The New York Times, Shkreli was physically abused by both of his Albanian immigrant parents and suffered extreme panic attacks. In order to avoid the abuse, he immersed himself in numbers and could calculate square roots by the age of six.

Unfortunately, Shkreli’s online behavior did not reflect the remorse that he showed in court. He wrote on Facebook that if he were to be acquitted, he would be able to have sex with a female journalist he often posted about online. According to CBS News, that was just one of several posts that prosecutors cited in a pre-sentencing submission in which they argued that any remorse Shkreli claimed to feel was only for show. Megyn MacMullen (‘18) said she thinks that “price gouging on medications that people need to literally live should be considered a crime against humanity.” Shkreli’s decision to increase Daraprim by 5,000 percent just adds onto his “despicable behavior, and so many pharmaceutical companies are doing it and it is destroying the economic, physical, and mental well being of those with diseases like HIV,” said MacMullen.

Just one month after his conviction, Shkreli offered $5,000 to any one who plucked a hair from Hillary Clinton’s head during her book tour. Shortly after this post, Judge Matsumoto revoked his bail and sent him to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. On top of the $7.36 million fine, the judge also imposed a separate fine of $75,000 that he now must pay. According to the Washington Post, the judge adjourned the session by encouraging Shkreli to seek out mental health treatment during his incarceration.

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