Thursday, December 17, 2015
Pharma Karma: America Rejoices As Reviled Pharma Bro Shkreli Arrested On Seven Counts of Fraud
Shkreli's perp walk. Photo by John Taggart/Bloomberg
Okay So There May Be A God After All Dept: Smirky bad boy billionaire, douchebag former pharmaceutical price-gouger, and all round dismal human being Martin Shkreli was arrested by the FBI Thursday at his Manhattan apartment on seven counts of wire and securities fraud for what prosecutors charged was a longstanding shell game in which he paid off outstanding business debts from a defunct hedge fund by plundering Retrophin Inc., a biotechnology firm he started in 2011; he was later ousted from the company, which is now suing him. Shkreli, 32, became infamous last year as the face of pharma greed when his Turing Pharmaceuticals jacked up the price of a life-saving anti-parasitic drug used by HIV and cancer patients from $13.50 to $750.
At Shkreli's arrest, federal prosecutors presented a 29-page indictment charging him with seven counts, including conspiracy to commit securities fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud. Also arrested early Thursday was his lawyer, Evan Greebel, for conspiring with him. Authorities described years of blatant lies in which Shkreli repeatedly weaseled millions from investors, either lost it on bad investments or spent it on living expenses, and covered up the losses by lying to investors, brokers and, from the insufferably arrogant tone of his dealings with the world, himself. He was evidently stunningly bad at managing money: Within a year of getting $3 million from nine investors, investigators say, his fund's account was down to $331. U.S. Attorney Robert Capers charged that Shkreli "engaged in multiple schemes to ensnare investors through a web of lies and deceit...His plots were matched only by efforts to conceal the fraud, which led him to operate his companies (as) a Ponzi scheme."
Given his reputation as the most hated man in America - re-enforced by a sneeringly noxious social media persona that would, for example, boast about "licking my chops" after getting revenge on his supposed enemies - Shkreli's demise and photos of his grim perp walk were greeted online with the gleeful sense of schadenfreude he had earned. Yeah yeah: Innocent until proven guilty, it was duly noted. Still, sympathy was in short supply. Sample comments: "Yes Virginia there is a Santa Clause...Hey @MartinShkreli - Now that you're in jail, visit the commissary. You want a toothbrush? That'll be $12,450....I love a little karma with my coffee....Martin Shkreli's bail was going to be set at $500,000 but they raised it to $27,500,000 just for him." Etc.
No word on bail. Some commenters helpfully suggested he could trade in his newly, gloatingly purchased $2 million Wu-Tang record, but Shkreli was for once strangely silent on the idea.