Notorious pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli claimed a partial victory by a federal jury Friday, which acquitted him of five of eight counts he faced in Brooklyn federal court.
The jury did find Shkreli guilty on two counts of securities fraud and one charge of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, however, and he could face 20 years in prison.
The “Pharma Bro” is best known for infamously raising the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000%, but faced trial on unrelated charges of securities fraud. His highly publicized trial lasted nearly five weeks, with most of the time taken up by more than a dozen government witnesses.
Shkreli’s defense team chose not to call up a single witness of their own, and Shkreli did not testify.
The jury began considering the eight counts Monday morning, after closing arguments concluded last week.
"I think on appeal, or even not on appeal, those punishments are going to be close to nil," Shkreli said in his Youtube livestream after the verdict, referring viewers to sentencing guidelines.
Shkreli faced decades in prison for the alleged $11-million fraud scheme. Prosecutors claimed Shkreli first lied to investors in MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare, two hedge funds, about how well they were doing, then stole from Retrophin, his pharmaceutical company, to pay investors back. But his defense lawyers argued that Shkreli made investors whole, meaning he did not intend to defraud them.
The most serious count, securities fraud, still carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Shkreli alluded to his lack of criminal history while hypothesizing he would face a much lighter punishment.
Shkreli remains free on bond ahead of sentencing, for which a date has not yet been set. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to first argue about how much money Shkreli will be expected to forfeit.
Next to attorney Benjamin Brafman outside the courthouse on Friday, Shkreli reiterated the claim that the trial was a “witch hunt of epic proportions.”
“Maybe they found one or two broomsticks but at the end of the day we’ve been acquitted of the most important charges in this case,” Shkreli added, Bloomberg News reported.
Jurors came back to the judge with questions about “fraudulent intent” during deliberations, signaling that they were seriously considering a defense raised by Shkreli’s team. “Good news,” Brafman mouthed to Shkreli after seeing the note.
During an impassioned closing statement, defense attorney Brafman pleaded with jurors to acquit Shkreli because he is a sexually confused misfit who marches to the beat of his own drummer. It was the conclusion to a carefully orchestrated defense that relied on cross-examining government witnesses. Shkreli’s lawyers didn’t call any of their own witnesses to the stand.
“What do you hear from this, every single witness?” Brafman added, referring to people called by the government. “It’s that there’s something wrong with Martin Shkreli.”
One of the witnesses even compared him to “Rain Man,” Brafman reminded jurors, and mentioned a 2010 exchange with a gay investor in his bedroom, where the man asked Shkreli if he had any feelings for him. (“No, I like you a lot, but I don’t,” Shkreli said.)
“Martin Shkreli, despite all his flaws and dysfunctional personality, is brilliant beyond words,” Brafman said.
But prosecutors had disputed the boy-genius characterization.
It’s “time for Martin Shkreli to be held responsible for his choices,” said assistant U.S. attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis.
The case got off to a late start because lawyers had difficulties finding an impartial jury that was free for up to six weeks in the summer.
“I know he’s the most hated man in America, in my opinion," one prospective juror told the judge, while another mimed wringing Shkreli’s neck.
Shkreli became infamous after he bought a life-saving drug commonly used by AIDS patients and jacked up its price by 5,000 percent. The drug, Daraprim, ballooned in price from $13.50 to $750 per pill.
In another infamous incident, Shkreli was banned from Twitter for harassing a female journalist. He attempted to rejoin Twitter during the trial, but was swiftly blocked again.
He continued to interact with reporters during the trial to the chagrin of both prosecutors and his defense team, who told judge Kiyo Matsumoto that they were trying to keep him in check. Yet early in the trial, he wandered into an overflow courtroom used by reporters to insult prosecutors
working his case as the “junior varsity.”
“They blame me for everything,” Shkreli said of the U.S. attorney’s office. “They blame me for capitalism.”
His attorney, Brafman, quickly arrived and pulled Shkreli out.
But Shkreli maintained the aloof persona on social media as the case wrapped up.
“My case is a silly witch hunt perpetrated by self-serving prosecutors,” he posted on Facebook on Thursday, after the first day of closing statements. “Thankfully my amazing attorney sent them back to junior varsity where they belong.”
“Drain the swamp. Drain the sewer that is the DOJ,” he added, mimicking language used by President Donald Trump. “MAGA.”