The federal judge hearing the securities fraud case against disgraced pharmaceutical executive and former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli let him have it Wednesday, stopping just short of telling him to shuddup.
The problem, prosecutors said, is that Shkreli has been talking to reporters covering the trial.
“All your client has to do,” U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto said, clearly angry at both Shkreli and defense attorney Benjamin Brafman, “is stop talking in the courthouse and around the perimeter of the courthouse.”
That’s a tall order for the “Pharma Bro,” who had planned to take part in a pro-Trump art show and to tour college campuses with the equally repulsive Milo Yiannopoulos — until poop-throwing protesters forced a cancellation at the University of California at Berkeley — who boasted on television about raising the price of a lifesaving AIDS medication 5,000 percent, and who allegedly defrauded investors and was banned by Twitter for harassing a journalist.
And just coincidentally, reports say Shkreli had until recently been using a “secret” Twitter account — which is now suspended. And as Bloomberg reported, he remains active on other forms of social media. But let’s turn back to Wednesday’s courtroom drama.
The Washington Post reported prosecutors and Judge Matsumoto reached the breaking point on June 30th, when Shkreli, 34, paid a surprise visit to an overflow room in the courthouse filled with reporters. There, for five unfettered minutes, he criticized the feds from the Eastern District, mocking them as the “junior varsity” legal team, compared to federal prosecutors in Manhattan.
Shkreli also claimed he never considered a plea deal to resolve his case. But in truth, Shkreli’s defense team initiated plea negotiations several times, according to prosecutors. “Many of Mr. Shkreli’s statements are inaccurate,” said Jacquelyn Kasulis, chief of the business and securities fraud section for the Eastern District U.S. attorney’s office.
He also made what might have been a ploy for pity, telling the news media: “I think the world blames me for almost everything,” just before his attorney called him out of the room.
“I was shocked by these comments and statements,” Matsumoto said at the hearing. “Any juror could have heard them.”
Prosecutors asked that either the judge issue a gag order or that he sequester the jury.
“Mr. Shkreli’s behavior appears to be escalating,” Kasulis told the court. “It is of paramount importance that we avoid a circus-like atmosphere.”
But the judge only banned Shkreli from talking on the courthouse premises, and did not ban him from speaking out on the internet.
Brafman told the judge he “ran” across the courthouse to pull his client away from reporters upon learning what he was doing, and claimed he was “outraged and dismayed” by the prosecutor’s statements about the plea deal, denying Shkreli had ever considered one.
According to Brafman, the fault lies with the news media which he claimed was “baiting” his client into talking.
About that. It is unclear how the media “baited” Shkreli to join Yiannopoulos at Berkeley this past January, where instead of giving a talk, he got shit thrown in his face.
— Frances Wang (@FrancesWangTV) January 14, 2017
If convicted, Shkreli faces up to 20 years in prison. We’ll report on the ongoing trial as well as the verdict in the Shkreli case as soon as it is rendered, which we cannot imagine will take long.