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'Pharma Bro', who drove up anti-HIV drug prices, gets jail

11 March 2018

Maligned "pharma bro" Marin Shkreli shed tears as he made a final plea to the judge who handed down his 7-year prison sentence in a NY courtroom on Friday afternoon for securities and wire fraud charges.

Martin Shrkeli, the self-promoting pharmaceutical executive notorious for trolling critics online, was convicted in a securities fraud case past year unconnected to the price increase dispute.

"The only person to blame for me being here today is me".

Shkreli, the boyish-looking, 34-year-old entrepreneur dubbed the "Pharma Bro" for his loutish behavior, was handed his punishment after a hearing in which he and his attorney struggled with limited success to make him a sympathetic figure.

At the hearing, Shkreli had choked up as he said he had learned from his mistakes. "I am terribly sorry", he said to his investors, "I lost your trust". "You deserve far better". Shkreli insisted it was a joke.

But denying the recent sentence had anything to do with his controversial past, the judge told the court: "This case is not about Mr Shkreli's self-cultivated public persona ... nor his controversial statements about politics or culture".

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Martin Shkreli's sentencing comes just days after he was ordered to relinquish both the one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin as well as Lil Wayne's unreleased project, Tha Carter V.

Attorney Ben Brafman told Mr Matsumoto he sometimes wants to hug Shkreli and sometimes wants to punch him in the face, but said his outspokenness should not be held against him.

The defence previously argued Shkreli shouldn't have to forfeit anything because the hedge fund investors are claimed to have made a profit from drug company stock he gave them.

But prosecutors said that plainly Shkreli "stole money for his own benefit", calling it "absurd" to cast him as some misunderstood child genius.

She said the judge had to consider his history and said he has "no respect whatsoever" for the law, or the court proceedings.

All that said, Judge Matsumoto said at the sentencing she did not take these into account when deciding Shkreli's sentence, focusing instead on the crimes he was found guilty of. "He is a man who needs to take responsibility for his actions".

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Disgraced former drug company executive Martin Shkreli has sparked controversy on numerous occasions in the past, whether it's through bragging about his wealth, or hiking up the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 per cent in one night. During his testimony he pleaded the Fifth Amendment, refusing to answer any questions. Afterward, he tweeted that the lawmakers were "imbeciles". Shkreli did not visibly react as the sentence was announced. "So I point one back at em, but not the index or pinkie".

Before sentencing him, the judge said it was up to Congress to fix the issue of the HIV price-hike and spoke about how his family and friends "state, nearly universally, that he is kind and misunderstood" and willing to help others in need.

Some of the letters sent to the court on his behalf were as quirky as the defendant himself.

In September, Judge Kiyo Matsumoto revoked his bail after Shkreli took to social media to offer $5,000 to anyone would bring him a strand of Hillary Clinton's hair. He also ignored the advice of his lawyer by commenting on the trial via social media and YouTube.

Another supporter said Shkreli's soft side was demonstrated when he adopted a cat from a shelter - named Trashy - that became a fixture on his livestreams.

He was convicted on August 5, 2017 of securities fraud and conspiracy in what prosecutors said amounted to a Ponzi scheme.

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'Pharma Bro', who drove up anti-HIV drug prices, gets jail