'Pharma bro' Martin Shkreli cries before getting seven years in prison
In 2015, Martin Shkreli went from an obscure businessman to one of the most despised figures in America. It all started when his company acquired Daraprim, a lifesaving drug used to treat toxoplasmosis (a parasite infection), and to prevent toxoplasmosis in HIV patients. It used to cost $13.50 per pill. Shkreli jacked the price up overnight by 5,000 percent, raising the cost to a ridiculous $750 per pill. The public was outraged, and dubbed him 'Pharma Bro.'
After making the news for his insidious price-gouging, Shkreli basked in his fame, and started a new career as an Internet troll. He appeared on TV shows to do interviews, insisting that no one suffered from jacking up the price of Daraprim. He bought the Wu-Tang Clan's infamous "one copy only" album for a cool $2 million, then taunted horrified fans online by using the CD as a coaster and threatening to break it. He harassed a female journalist on Twitter until his account was permanently suspended. In his streaming live chats, he reveled in all the attention, smirking as he sparred with his haters.
Surprisingly, it wasn't the price-gouging that got Shkreli in trouble with the federal government. Last August, he was convicted on three counts of fraud, which is a felony. In interviews, the former pharmaceutical executive claimed the prosecution was just desperate for attention. "This is their f---ing limelight," he complained to Vice. "This is their chance to be gods, to be a rockstar." He added that he wasn't afraid of prison, anyway, because it would be "like dorms."
On social media, he remained defiant, until one of his controversial stunts backfired. In September, Shkreli wrote a post on Facebook, offering a $5,000 bounty for one of Hillary Clinton's hairs. While he claimed it was just a joke, the judge didn't think it was so funny, and revoked his bail. For the past six months, he's been held at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center.
Today Martin Shkreli, 34, was sentenced to seven years in prison in a Brooklyn courtroom. Reportedly he cried before the sentencing, a moment which not yet surfaced on photo or video, but was depicted by a courtroom sketch artist.
"I look back and I'm embarrassed and ashamed," said Shkreli in court, sporting a beard, and wearing his prison scrubs. "I am terribly sorry [to my investors]. I lost your trust. There's no conspiracy to take down Martin Shkreli. I took down Martin Shkreli with my disgraceful and shameful actions... I was never motivated by money. I wanted to grow my stature and my reputation. I am here because of my gross, stupid and negligent mistakes I made.”
Shkreli's lawyer, Ben Brafman, argued that his client was socially awkward and a bit obnoxious, but deep down, good at heart. "I've gotten to know him quite well," said Brafman. "There are times I wanna hug him and hold him and comfort him, and there's times I want to punch him in the face." As example of the Pharma Bro's good side, he described how Shkreli taught math to other inmates at the Detention Center.
However, Judge Kiyo Matsumoto was not convinced by Shkreli's "egregious multitude of lies." She noted that he seemed "genuinely remorseful" at the moment, but after his conviction, he "repeatedly minimized" his illegal conduct.
But let's get to the important issue: What's going to happen to that one-copy-only Wu-Tang Clan album?
In court Shkreli's lawyers argued that since he paid back his investors, there was no financial loss, therefore no crime was committed. The judge rejected that argument, because fraud losses cover property, regardless of whether or not that property is returned. As a result, she ruled that he will have to forfeit $7.36 million to the government. That means that unless he can come up with restitution, they will seize many of his valuable assets, including a Picasso painting, the unreleased Lil' Wayne album The Carter V, and the one-copy-only Wu-Tang Clan album, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin. According to legal experts, the album will be studied by government-appointed appraisers and then offered at a public auction. So, start saving your money now!