By Barry Eitel
Former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli was sentenced Friday to seven years in federal prison for committing fraud.
Shkreli reached international notoriety in recent years as the “pharma bro” who founded Turing Pharmaceuticals, a company that bought the licenses to several medicines and increased the prices substantially.
Last year, Shkreli was convicted of two counts of securities fraud as well as another count of attempting securities fraud. The prison sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto was significantly higher than the 18-month maximum requested by Shkreli’s defense team, led by attorney Benjamin Brafman.
Before Matsumoto issued the sentence, Shkreli gave a tearful plea for leniency.
"The one person to blame for me being here today is me," Shkreli told the judge. “Not the government. There is no conspiracy to take down Martin Shkreli. I took down Martin Shkreli with my disgraceful and shameful actions.”
Lawyers for the government had requested a 15-year minimum sentence, more than double the jail time ultimately imposed by Matsumoto.
“We do believe the public needs to be protected from Mr. Shkreli,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis argued.
Shkreli’s choked-up presentation was in sharp contrast to the unapologetic attitude he has exuded since he became infamous in 2015 for raising the price of Daraprim, an anti-malarial medication used by HIV patients, from $13.50 to $750 per pill.
During the course of the trial, Shkreli was removed from Twitter for harassing a journalist for Teen Vogue magazine. In September last year, he took to social media to offer $5,000 for a strand of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s hair, a statement Matsumoto saw as a threat and ordered Shkreli to be placed in jail until he was sentenced.
Several days earlier, Matsumoto ordered Shkreli to surrender nearly $7.4 million in assets, including the only copy of a one-of-a-kind album by the rap group Wu-Tang Clan valued at roughly $2 million.