When “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli spoke with Gizmodo back in September, he told us he wouldn’t spend a single day in prison. Turns out, he was wrong.
Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in prison today by US District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto at a hearing in Brooklyn. Shkreli was sobbing when he told the judge that he’s “not the same person [he] once was.” Prosecutors had asked for a 15-year sentence, while his lawyers had asked for 12-18 months.
The judge said that Shkreli’s own emails call into question his claims of remorse and mentioned the time that he wrote “Fuck the feds,” while also bragging that he wouldn’t serve any real time in prison. And it wasn’t a great sign for Shkreli when his own lawyer said in court that there were times he wanted to punch Shkreli directly in the face.
Shkreli’s lawyers argued that he shouldn’t be sentenced harshly, “simply for being Martin Shkreli.” Which is now an internationally recognised way of saying that some is being an arsehole.
“I’m old enough to be his father,” Shkreli’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said before the judge issued the sentence. “There are times I want to hug and hold him... times I want to punch him in the face for some of the things he’s said.”
Earlier this week, Shkreli was ordered to hand over $7.36 million (£5.3 million) in assets, including the one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang record that he purchased for $2 million (£1.4 million), Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. Shkreli was previously found guilty on two counts of securities fraud in August of 2017 after lying to his investors.
Shkreli first became a household name when he decided to jack up the price of a life-saving HIV drug called Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill in September of 2015. Throughout the ensuing controversy and trial, the now 34-year-old seemed to relish the hate that was tossed his way in the press, but he (or his lawyer) wrote an uncharacteristically deferential letter to the judge last month.
The former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals has been in jail since September, when Judge Matsumoto revoked Shrkeli’s bail for offering a $5,000 (£3,600) bounty for some of Hillary Clinton’s hair on Facebook. He later called the post “satire” before taking down the post entirely. Neither kept him free, and the judge cited this and his threats against journalists before announcing her sentence.
“I have learned a very painful lesson,” Shkreli wrote in his February letter to the judge. “Never again will I prevaricate or omit or mislead—intentionally or not.”
“There are ways to communicate which eliminate the possibility of doubt and alternative interpretations of fact. I take responsibility for the fact that I used to behave and communicate in this way,” he continued. “It was wrong. I was a fool. I should have known better.”
But prosecutors weren’t buying it.
“Shkreli uses the letter to shift blame for his actions elsewhere—to his victims, to the government, to others he has encountered on social media, and to ‘demons who haunted me,’” the prosecutors argued in asking for a 15-year sentence. “Not once does Shkreli acknowledge that he lied to investors and committed fraud.”
Shkreli was never convicted of anything related to his disgusting business of price gouging, but instead was convicted of unrelated charges. He defrauded investors in two hedge funds that he operated and also lied about a company he founded in 2011 called Retrophin to keep its stock price artificially inflated.
While the judge emphasised that it was Shkreli’s crimes, not his outside conduct, that resulted in his sentence, it seems impossible that behaviour like the Clinton hair bounty did not influence the severity of his punishment.
Earlier this week, prosecutors told the court it should “consider Shkreli’s reprehensible conduct towards members of the public” when deciding his sentence, noting that his “inability to acknowledge that his actions constituted crimes, coupled with his other disdain for the criminal justice system (which has only escalated since his conviction), demonstrate that Shkreli is likely to commit similar crimes in the future.”
“Our sentencing submission could have been a lot worse,” prosecutors told the judge today when defending the call for as much as 15 years. “We didn’t go through years of tweets that we could have.”
So what will Shkreli do in prison? He told Gizmodo back in September that if he did go to prison he’d brush up on his reading and that he’d still be able to “make paper” from the inside. It’s unclear if Shkreli, who has a net worth of $27 million, still plans to “make paper” while serving his sentence. Maybe the prison has a DIY papyrus class.