Securities Trial of ‘Pharma Bro’ Nearing End as Defense Rests

MANHATTAN (CN) – The defense team for “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli rested their case Wednesday in his federal securities fraud trial without calling a single witness to the stand.

Closing arguments in the federal government’s trial against the publicly scorned pharmaceutical CEO are expected to take place Thursday with jury deliberation beginning Friday.

U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto said Wednesday that she would not ask jurors to deliberate over the weekend.

Prosecutors claim that Shkreli, the 34-year-old founder and former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, 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.

Defense attorneys for Shkreli, who is best known for jacking the price of life-saving AIDS drug Daraprim by 5,000 percent in 2015, hoped that testimony from the investors showed that every one of the victims were paid back in full through settlement agreements and/or consulting payouts and ultimately turned a profit.

Emails from 2013 between Shkreli, co-defendant Evan Greebel and several investors shown on Monday revealed Shkreli losing his patience at the pace of payouts and growing frustrated with Retrophin’s attorneys.

Messages recited to jurors by an FBI agent show Shkreli chewing out former partner Greebel, saying, “How long does it take to edit a consulting agreement I sent you three weeks ago.”

In another email to one of the allegedly defrauded investors, Shkreli called his 2013-era lawyers “lazy and stupid and paid too much.”

On Monday, Shkreli confirmed to Judge Matsumoto that he would not be taking the stand in his trial.

During the trial’s opening statements, defense attorney Benjamin Brafman teased that Shkreli may or may not take the stand.

Following the announcement that he wouldn’t be testifying in court, Shkreli shared on Facebook lyrics to the Jay-Z song “Never Change” which reference Fifth Amendment rights protecting against self-incrimination, posting the line “plead the fif [sic] when it comes to the fam im like a dog i dont speak but i understand.”

Although he won’t be taking the stand, Shkreli has offered his take on the case through several outlets outside of the courtroom.

On June 30, Shkreli spoke directly to a press pool without his attorneys’ supervision during a lunch break. He called prosecutors “junior varsity,” denied that he had ever considered taking a plea deal, and bemoaned that people “blame me for everything.”

During the second day of prolonged jury selection, Brafman acknowledged that his client’s infamous Twitter history was “just horrific,” according to a press pool reporter listening to a conversation between the lawyer and Judge Matsumoto.

Shkreli, who was temporarily suspended from Twitter in January for targeted harassment of journalist Lauren Duca, was permanently suspended from the service in May.

On other occasions, the Twitter-banned Shkreli has taken to live video streams from his apartment on Facebook and YouTube, mostly answering questions from supporters while playing guitar and petting his cat.

During one of his Facebook live streams following a day of trial, Shkreli lamented “so much fake news out there” and remarked “you got a couple journalists who hate me because I’m beautiful and you’ve got a couple people who believe those journalists.”

Opening statements in his trial began on June 29. The trial was expected last four to six weeks, a strong sticking point for many dismissed potential jurors.

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

Co-defendant Greebel is expected to go on trial later this year.

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