Martin Shkreli, the hedge fund manager and pharmaceuticals entrepreneur who was harshly criticised for jacking up the price of a life-saving AIDS drug by 5000%, is facing up to two decades behind bars after a jury found that he deceived investors in a pair of failed hedge funds.
The 34-year-old, whose unapologetically douchey behaviour earned him the title of Pharma Bro on the internet, was found guilty on three of the eight charges against him.
He was convicted on two counts of securities fraud relating to allegations that he lied to investors while convincing them to put more capital into his hedge funds, and one count of conspiracy.
Prosecutors alleged that Shkreli repaid investors with cash and stock looted from his biotech company Retrophin, however he was cleared on charges relating to this.
Defence attorney Benjamin Brafman attempted to sway the jury by pointing out that Shkreli’s investors were savvy and sophisticated, and their involvement with him ultimately made them wealthier.
Prosecutor Jacquelyn M. Kasulis rebutted this, saying that “just because the defendant got lucky and Retrophin became a success years later”, he should not be excused of fraud.
After the verdict was handed down, federal judge Kiyo Matsumoto allowed Shkreli to walk free on $5 million bail, with a sentencing date not yet set.
Speaking to reporters outside the court, the entrepreneur said that he felt vindicated by the fact that he had been exonerated of the charges he considered more serious.
“We’re delighted in many ways,” he said.
“This was a witch hunt of epic proportions. Maybe they found one or two broomsticks, but at the end of the day we were acquitted of the most important charges in this case.”
Though he faces up to 20 years in prison, it has been speculated that his actual sentence will be lighter, given his lack of previous criminal convictions.