American consumers quickly learned to despise Martin Shkreli, after his massive increase in medication pricing when he was CEO of Turing Pharmaceutical. Day after day, Shkreli was barraged by negative headlines and denigrated on social media. Now, it seems, the stakes are much higher.
According to a story in CNN, federal prosecutor Girish Karthik Srinivasan called Shkreli “a liar and a fraudster” … and those were just the opening statements of the defendant’s criminal fraud trial.
Shkreli’s attorney, of course, offered a different take on his client’s behavior, calling him an “oddball genius”… “Maybe he’s nuts, but that doesn’t make him guilty…” defense attorney Ben Brafman fired back at the prosecutor. “Martin Shkreli never intended to defraud anyone… Investors who made millions will come here and begrudgingly admit they are not victims.”
According to the prosecution, Shkreli developed an elaborate Ponzi scheme in which he defrauded investors of more than $11 million over a five-year period between 2009 and 2014.
“He took investors’ money based on lies and continued to lie to them for months after he had lost all the money…” Srinivasan said.
The alleged fraud happened while Shkreli was CEO of Retrophin, the pharma company he founded back in 2011. According to the suit, the defendant used funds from that company to pay off investors in two hedge funds. The board of Retrophin was not made aware of the payments at the time.
So, how does Retrophin feel about these charges, as their company’s name is being directly connected with a fraud scheme? A spokesman for the company told CNN, “We will let the facts speak for themselves in court…”
What will those facts be? That’s what the courts will decide. Meanwhile, consumers who follow the narrative will hear that a guy they already don’t like too much is “strange” or “weird” … and that’s just coming from Shkreli’s own attorney. What will people think once the prosecution has their say? We’ll know very soon.
One thing about this case, Shkreli’s name recognition alone practically guarantees headlines will be written, no matter what happens in this case. With most people already poised to dislike the guy who jacked up the price of a vital AIDs drug back in 2015, it’s a good bet most of the narrative will be, very likely, slanted negative before the judge even bangs his gavel for the last time.
So, even if Shkreli manages to get a win in court, he will have a long way to go to clear his name.
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