NEW YORK — Former pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli was portrayed both as a swindler by the government and as a well-meaning prodigy by his lawyers on the second day of closing arguments Friday at his securities fraud trial.
The trial in federal court in Brooklyn “has exposed Martin Shkreli for who he really is — a con man who stole millions,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis told jurors.
Prosecutors allege that the 34-year-old Shkreli looted his drug company, Retrophin, of stock and cash so he could pay back disgruntled investors in a pair of failed hedge funds he ran. Investors testified that the defendant repeatedly lied to them about what was going on with their money.
The defense has argued that no one was victimized because Shkreli used his “genius” to make Retrophin a success and ensure investors doubled or even tripled their money.
“Who lost anything? Nobody,” defense attorney Ben Brafman said in his closing argument. Some investors were forced to admit on the witness stand that partnering with Shkreli was “the greatest investment I’ve ever made,” he added.
The lawyer also argued that a drug company official who testified for the government was biased. If Shkreli is found guilty of a felony, Brafman said, the company would have clear grounds for forcing him out as CEO in 2014 and would gain ammunition in its $65 million lawsuit against him. Shkreli claims he was wrongfully terminated and is owed millions.
With a guilty verdict, “Retrophin pops a Champagne cork,” he said.
After the arguments, the judge instructed the jurors on the law before sending them home for the weekend. Deliberations are set to begin Monday.
Shkreli became notorious for using another drug company to raise the price of a life-saving drug 5,000 percent and for trolling his critics on social media, where he’s been dubbed “Pharma Bro.”
The defendant didn’t testify. But he made his thoughts on the case known on Facebook, where he called it “bogus.”
This story has been corrected to show that the $65 million refers to damages sought in a lawsuit, not a $65 million stake in a drug company.