Fate of ‘Pharma Bro’ Shkreli in Jury’s Hands

BROOKLYN (CN) – Jurors in the month-long trial of “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli heard closing statements from both sides Thursday in a Brooklyn federal courthouse, a day before they begin deliberating whether to send him to prison for up to 20 years on securities-fraud charges.

“Everyone ultimately got repaid,” emphasized Shkreli’s showman of a defense attorney Benjamin Brafman.

“This is rich people BS!” Brafman declared several times, shrugging off both the charges against Shkreli and the investor witnesses who have recently sought to distance themselves from the publicly scorned defendant.

“Good faith, in this case, can be a complete defense,” Brafman posited early in his closing statement.

The defense attorney pushed the narrative to the jury that nobody was defrauded in the case, reiterating the point that he had made four weeks earlier in his opening statement.

Prosecutors claim that Shkreli veiled investors’ money through his hedge fund, MSMB Capital, to build his new pharmaceutical company, Retrophin, then tried to pay off the original investors with unauthorized Retrophin funds and sham consulting agreements.

Shkreli faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud.

Brafman pushed a good-faith defense of the “stunningly brilliant” Shkreli, the 34-year-old founder and former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who is best known for jacking the price of life-saving AIDS drug Daraprim by 5,000 percent in 2015.

Arguing that the government must prove bad faith and criminal intent, Brafman said of his client, “Everything he did is inconsistent with bad faith.”

Having called no witnesses of his own to the stand during the trial, the defense attorney reminded the jury of his cross-examinations of the government’s witnesses.

“The cross counts. Cross-examination is considered to be the engine of truth,” he said at the beginning of his closing statements.

Brafman talked of how much each investor witness loved Shkreli’s genius and how handsomely each was eventually paid.

“He made them not whole, he made them richer than they already are,” Brafman said before once again lashing out at “rich people BS,” taking aim at the wealthy investors who he said did not read the fine print of the private placement memos with their investment agreements.

The attorney characterized Shkreli as a business genius who slept in his office in a sleeping bag for two years “like a vagrant,” building his pharmaceutical company from “sheer intellect.” He speculated that Shkreli was possibly “working at a pace that only superhumans like him can keep up with.”

Brafman, whose barnstorming opening statements twice conjured Lady Gaga, offered a quasi-homily to jurors in his closing statement.

“I feel like a life guard on a beach. It is my worst fear to not be able to rescue someone. There is Martin floating in his own little world. I could swim out and save him in two minutes, unless a current takes him away,” he told the jury. “I need your help to try and save Martin.”

Speaking first on Thursday morning, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alixandra E. Smith delivered her nearly four-hour closing statements on behalf of the prosecution.

Shkreli told “lies upon lies,” Smith told the jury of seven women and five men.

She said Shrkeli was not truthful about the size and performance of his hedge funds, lied about attending Columbia University and lied about retaining audit firm Rothstein Kass.

Smith alleged Shkreli’s representation that MSMB Capital had $35 million in assets under management was “way, way off,” and that the lies were used to induce millions of dollars from investors.

The prosecutor also said that Shkreli misled investors about the liquidity of their investments in MSMB Capital, and that he concealed the $7 million liability he owed to Merrill Lynch, stemming from 2011 Orexigen Therapeutics trades.

Jury deliberation is expected to begin Friday. U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto said Wednesday that she would not ask jurors to deliberate over the weekend.

%d bloggers like this: