Bad Rep Weighs Down Jury Selection for ‘Pharma Bro’

BROOKLYN (CN) – Martin Shkreli smirked through the second day of jury selection Tuesday as attorneys excused New Yorker after New Yorker for bias in his federal securities fraud trial.

While the majority of the 200-plus excused jurors have voiced concern that jury duty will carry hardship on personal lives, such as their family, work or health factors, Shkreli’s negative reputation has come up repeatedly in the voir dire process being led in Brooklyn by U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto.

By 1 p.m. on the second day of jury selection, not a single juror had been seated.

Describing the 34-year-old defendant as “a snake” and “an evil man,” several jurors told the court Tuesday that they would have trouble keeping an open mind about Shkreli.

Shkreli faces a slew of conspiracy charges based on the Ponzi-like scheme he is accused of running through his now-defunct hedge fund, MSMB Capital Management, to defraud investors in biotechnology company Retrophin. But his notoriety in the jurors’ eyes stems largely from his gleeful price-gouging of Daraprim, a life-saving drug for AIDS patients whose price Shkreli jacked by 5,000 percent in 2015.

Judge Matsumoto repeatedly reminded potential jurors Tuesday that Shkreli is not on trial for the price-gouging.

One health care professional told the court that she wouldn’t be the right person to sit on the jury because of her personal experience administering AIDS medication.

Another potential juror cited his potential inability to give Shkreli a fair trial on his professional experience with fraud as a compliance officer for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

And a third juror, excused for employment hardship, declared that Shkreli “just seems to care about himself.”

Almost the entirety of today’s jury selection dialogue occurred in sidebar conversations conducted by the defense team’s Benjamin Brafman.

The attorney lobbied unsuccessfully to keep a pool press reporter from listening in on the sidebar interviews.

Throughout jury selection, Shkreli has sat smirking beside his other attorneys, Jacob Kaplan and Marc Agnifilo.

Opening statements are scheduled for June 28, with the trial expected to last four to six weeks.

Judge Matsumoto touted that it “promises to be interesting and educational.”

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