BROOKLYN (CN) – A federal jury on Wednesday found the former lawyer for convicted fraudster Martin “Pharma Bro” Shkreli guilty of helping the scorned pharmaceutical executive craft a scam to repay defrauded investors.
Attorney Evan Greebel was charged with conspiring to commit wire and securities fraud with Shkreli, whose company Retrophin had hired Greebel as its outside counsel, in connection with a “Ponzi-like scheme” Shkreli engineered long before his name earned instant revile in connection to pharmaceutical price gouging.
During the tense few minutes in the courtroom before the jury entered with its verdict, Greebel sat flanked by his team of lawyers, his eyes closed and his lips moving occasionally, hands clasped on the table in front of him. His wife, Jodi, was perched in the front row of the gallery in a dark gray jacket.
Choked sobs burst from her row as U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto read the guilty verdict. Greebel’s expression, however, did not change; he appeared to be staring straight through the wall behind the jury. Jodi collapsed to a crouch, crying. Her father, Niles Citrin, comforted her.
Jodi is a dietician and author of the 2007 cookbook “The Little Black Apron: A Single Girl’s Guide to Cooking with Style and Grace.” Citrin’s accounting firm, Citrin Cooperman, came up in the case when its former employee Corey Massella testified as a witness. Massella had been hired to review Retrophin’s finances in 2012 before the company went public.
As soon as the jury was dismissed, Greebel grabbed his coat and bag and walked briskly out of the courtroom. In the hallway afterward, his lawyers seemed shell-shocked. One of them, Reed Brodsky, appearing to be on the verge of tears himself, pointed to Shkreli as a negative influence on their case.
“Shkreli himself is so toxic that it’s hard to, with today’s environment, get justice where there’s an association with someone so toxic,” he said.
Shkreli, 34, is best known for his unapologetic price-gouging of the HIV drug Daraprim. At the helm of another of his companies, Turing Pharmaceuticals, in September 2015, Shkreli bought the rights to Daraprim, then hiked its price from $13.50 to $750.
It was Shkreli’s scheme to loot millions of dollars from Retrophin in stock and cash, however, that landed him behind bars. Though Shkreli is not scheduled to be sentenced until January, a federal judge remanded him to jail in September after finding that he posed a danger to the community. Shkreli had offered his more than 70,000 Facebook followers a $5,000 bounty for each hair follicle belonging to Hillary Clinton they could procure.
Prosecutors had claimed Greebel, Retrophin’s lawyer during the time of the 2012-2014 scheme and Shkreli’s co-defendant in the case, gave Shkreli detailed advice on how to pay off investors in his fledgling hedge funds, MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare, with Retrophin funds, as well as how to circumvent trading restrictions to improperly maintain control of certain shares of Retrophin.
Greebel was accused of participating in fraudulent backdating of documents and helping draft phony settlement and consulting agreements.
The jury began deliberations on Friday, taking a break for the Christmas holiday before resuming on Tuesday. Jurors reached a verdict around 2 p.m. local time Wednesday.
The defense’s main argument was that Shkreli was a genius manipulator who also duped his own lawyers. If Greebel acted in good faith as Retrophin’s attorney, his legal team argued, the intent to conspire could not exist.
But the jury didn’t buy it, finding Greebel guilty on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and another count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
“We’re just shocked by the decision,” Brodsky said outside the courtroom. “We will continue to fight for Evan Greebel and his family…We believe and hope the judge will evaluate the testimony and the law, and right this injustice.”
He added, “We believe based on the facts and the law that Evan Greebel should be acquitted.” Judge Matsumoto has not yet ruled on the defense’s motion for acquittal.
Greebel’s trial lasted about twice as long as was expected after jury selection began in October. It was in many ways a longer echo of Shkreli’s trial.
Greebel, a partner with Katten Muchin Rosenman, saw his annual salary triple from $355,000 in fiscal year 2013 to $900,000 in 2014, when he was advising Shkreli and Retrophin paid the legal bills.
A sentencing date has not yet been set. Greebel remains out on bail. He could face a maximum of 20 years in prison.
As Greebel’s family walked out of the courthouse, Citrin tried to shield them from the view of a single photographer by putting his hands in the photographer’s camera lens and face.