‘Pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli, who got famous ripping off AIDS patients, jailed for seven years
Infamous pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli has been jailed for seven years.
Turing Pharmaceuticals founder Martin Shkreli came under fire in 2015 after buying the rights to 62-year-old drug Daraprim, which is used to treat conditions including AIDS-related toxoplasmosis, and jacking up the price to $750 a pill.
The 5500% price rise sparked outrage, but Shkreli refused to back down – earning hatred from commentators with his smug defence of the predatory business practise.
But even after becoming one of the most hated men in America, Shkreli managed to pull off a spectacular fall from grace, when he was arrested by the FBI on fraud charges, relating to his hedge fund businesses.
Shkreli was today sentenced to seven years in prison for defrauding investors and was fined $75,000.
Judge Kiyo Matsumoto emphasised: “This case is not about pharmaceutical pricing or Mr Shkreli’s controversial statements or actions, nor his scientific aptitude.
“[It is about] repeated breaches of trust and repeated lies to his investors”.
The former pharma boss wept in the New York courtroom as he begged the judge not to sentence him to years in prison.
However, the judge was apparently as unmoved as… well, Shkreli himself, back when he was quizzed about his drug price-gouging tactics before Congress.
Appearing before Congress in 2016, Shkreli had airly dismissed pleas from lawmakers, repeatedly exercising his right to remain silent.
Asked about his actions, he said: “On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, and respectfully decline your question.”
Asked about AIDS patients struggling to afford their medication, he said: “On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, and respectfully decline your question.”
At one point he even giggled while a lawmaker was speaking about the impact of his actions on patients.
There were no such giggles in the New York courtroom this week, as Shkreli choked back tears and read a statement expressing remorse for his actions.
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The 34-year-old said: “There one person to blame for me being here today is me. Not the government. There is no conspiracy to take down Martin Shkreli.
“I took down Martin Shkreli with my disgraceful and shameful actions. This is my fault. I am no victim here.”
He added: “I don’t think the real me is a collage of voyeuristic and Orwellian snippets collected over the years.
“I wanted to be a success in the business world, while being young and immature. I will do it [one day], the right way.”
Meanwhile, an account of his actions led even Shkreli’s lawyer Benjamin Brafman to concede: “There are times when I want to punch him in the face”.
Brafman had argued for a lenient sentence, saying: “He should not be sentenced solely for being Martin Shkreli, with all the baggage he brings to the table.”
The seven-year term that Shkreli will serve is less than half of the 15 years that had been sought by prosecutors.