The infamous drug company CEO convicted of defrauding investors, Martin Shkreli, was jailed on Wednesday after a federal judge revoked his $5,000 million bail. At the hearing in a federal court in Brooklyn, the judge sentenced that Shkreli had violated his bail on a securities fraud conviction with a post on social media that might represent a threat to Hilary Clinton.
According to the U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto, Martin Shkreli had harassed women online after the $5,000 million bail. On September 4, Shkreli addressed to the former presidential candidate and 42nd U.S. President’s wife, telling his followers that he would pay $5,000 to anyone who would grab a strand of Hilary Clinton’s hair during her book tour. The judge saw it as a threat to the former White House’s secretary, and sentenced the hedge fund manager to 20 years in prison.
The manager, who had been free since his December 2015 arrest, apologized in writing saying that he wasn’t trying to threaten Ms. Clinton. He did not think that anyone was going to take it seriously because the comment, he considered, was just a political satire. On Wednesday, his attorneys pleaded with the judge to give Shkreli another opportunity.
Shkreli, who‘s 34, is also called “pharma bro” for increasing the price of a drug used by people whose lives are at risks due to the AIDS by 5,000 percent. However, that wasn’t the reason why he was sentenced in August. He obtained money from investors and didn’t tell when he made bad stock bets that led to massive losses. According to the prosecutors, he continued tricking other investors and using the money of Retrophin, a drug company he was running, to pay for his losses.
According to the CEO of the pharmaceutical company, he will appeal his conviction again. He’ll argue that he was not trying to defraud his investors. Instead, he said he was making more money for them.
“The fact that he continues to remain unaware of the inappropriateness of his actions or words demonstrates to me that he may be creating an ongoing risk to the community,” said U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto, in revoking his bond. “This is a solicitation of assault. That is not protected by the First Amendment.”
A joke that could turn into a threat
At court, Shkreli seemed pretty calm while writing notes, hearing what the judge had to say. When he was found guilty after a lengthy trial, he remained with an expressionless face while he walked out the door of the courtroom with no handcuffs. He will be locked in a prison of maximum security until his sentencing hearing on January 16.
Shkreli posted the threat on Facebook days after Clinton started her book tour around the country. In court, the judge was told that the U.S. Secret Service, which protects Hilary Clinton, got alarmed due to what Shkreli’s words could mean. It also said that this event followed a series of threats from Shkreli against women journalists who criticize the way he manages his social media.
Judge Matsumoto also pointed a post made in July where he said he would have sexual encounters with the journalist Lauren Duca. The judge declared that this was a visible proof of threatening behavior.
“What is funny about that,” said the judge Matsumoto. “He doesn’t know who his followers are. He doesn’t know if someone it going to take his offer seriously. … He is soliciting an assault on another person for $5,000.”
“He says things that are stupid. I don’t think stupid makes you violent,” Brafman said.
Benjamin Brafman, Shkreli’s lawyer, argued that the CEO was innocent because free speech protected the Facebook comment. “He did not intend to cause harm,” he said. “Being inappropriate does not make you a danger to the community.”
However, judge Matsumoto said that it might mean a threat if just one out of more than 93,000 Shkreli’s followers could take it seriously. She said that it was a “solicitation of assault in exchange for money,” and that it was “not protected by the First Amendment… There’s a risk that somebody may take him up on it.”
At the end of the trial, Brafman asked the judge not to send Shkreli to the maximum security jail. Instead, he requested to reconsider sending him at least after Monday, which would be a good amount of time for Shkreli to prove he’s not dangerous. However, the judge denied the attorney’s request.
The “pharma bro” posted Monday on Facebook an apology to his followers, saying that he tried to have a little bit of humor and that he is not a “violent person.” However, the judge argued that it was not enough. She said that he didn’t have to apologize to her, but “to the government, the Secret Service, and Hillary Clinton.”
Source: The Washington Post