BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – “I will regret every day of my life the day I met Martin Shkreli.”
Evan Greebel, the former lawyer for “Pharma Bro” Shkreli, briefly addressed the court for the first time during his sentencing Friday for wire and securities fraud conspiracy.
U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto sentenced Greebel to 18 months in prison and over $10 million in restitution and $115,000 in forfeiture payments.
“I dread the day my children decide to search my name on the internet,” the 45-year-old lawyer lamented. He was convicted in December of scheming with Shkreli to repay the pharmaceutical executive’s defrauded investors.
For the defense team at Gibson Dunn, extracting the to-be-disbarred Greebel from the shadow of his mercurial and widely reviled former employer has been nothing short of a Sisyphean feat.
Though the effort gained some momentum in February when a juror from Greebel’s trial shared his reservations about the verdict, Judge Matsumoto rejected Greebel’s plea for acquittal or a new trial on Tuesday in a 177-page decision, and to a full courtroom Friday again rejected the notion Greebel was simply a pawn in Shkreli’s game.
“He is not feckless; he is not naïve; he is not inexperienced,” she said. “And he was not led astray by a young, brash CEO.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alixandra Smith said that Greebel’s repeated actions in the scheme, “decision after decision, year after year … when [he] thought no one was watching,” demonstrate that he was not just another Shkreli victim.
“It’s significant that the crimes did not constitute a one-time lapse in judgment,” she said. The loss of Greebel’s law license is not adequate punishment in itself, Smith argued.
“The legal community is watching this case very closely, and leniency sends the wrong message,” she said.
Greebel will surrender on Oct. 17. His defense team moved to keep him out on bail pending an appeal and will file papers before the end of the month.
“Each of us is much more than the worst thing we have ever done,” said another of Greebel’s attorneys, Gibson Dunn’s Mylan Denerstein, addressing the court.
Pushing a minor role reduction, the Gibson Dunn brief emphasizes that his scheme was one engineered by Shkreli, whom Judge Matsumoto sentenced this past March to seven years in prison.
The brief also laments the loss of Greebel’s law license and talks about Greebel’s attentiveness as a parent to three young children.
In addition to attending his sons’ lacrosse practices, Greebel has coached basketball and Little League, and helped his children make donations to the Ronald McDonald House and an animal shelter, according to the letter, which quotes letters written on his behalf.
Nearly 200 letters were submitted to the court before the sentencing, which another of Greebel’s attorneys, Reed Brodsky, said was more than he had ever seen in a criminal case.
“I would agree,” Matsumoto chimed in from the bench.
“The executive director of the University of Michigan Hillel, Michael Brooks, remembers Evan as ‘a mensch, and a very solid one,’” wrote Brodsky, who was visibly emotional in court and spoke in uncharacteristically subdued tones. Greebel’s whole defense team spent much of the hearing with their heads in their hands. Brodsky told the court they had all lost “many nights of sleep” over Greebel’s case.
Greebel is “the kind of dad who is always outside playing with the children, running home on Halloween to go trick or treating with them, or simply sitting with them reading a book,” wrote Greebel’s mother-in-law, Nancy Citrin.
“He is the dad who can be found taking the boys to buy sporting equipment yet he is also the one to pitch in with a bath for the kids or a diaper change,” Citrin added.
Attorney Brodsky noted that there is another reason to be lenient with their client.
“Most importantly, given the recent tragic events that have impacted the Greebel family, Evan’s family — his wife and young children — need him at home,” wrote Brodsky.
Evan Greebel’s wife, née Jodi Citrin, is a dietician and author of the 2007 cookbook “The Little Black Apron: A Single Girl’s Guide to Cooking with Style and Grace.” Her father, Niles Citrin, who attended much of the trial with her, is a founding partner at the accounting firm Citrin Cooperman. The firm came up in Greebel’s trial 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.
In a widely publicized 2015 tragedy, Jodi Citrin’s then-27-year-old brother, Mark, slashed their father in the face with a knife, then barricaded a door and jumped to his death from a 46th-floor window of the family’s Upper East Side condo, in what police called a “family dispute.”
Judge Matsumoto appeared to get choked up as she addressed the full courtroom about how the grieving family’s circumstances played into her sentence, taking several long pauses and hunching over her papers.
Jodi Greebel collapsed, doubled over in the gallery, as Matsumoto read out the sentence Friday.
“I recognize that this is difficult for the Greebel family, but I do wish everybody well,” Matsumoto said before she left the courtroom.