Americas

‘Pharma bro’ Shkreli faces new trouble for Facebook post on Clinton; Secret Service investigating

‘Pharma bro’ Shkreli faces new trouble for Facebook post on Clinton; Secret Service investigating
Martin Shkreli, a former hedge fund and pharmaceuticals executive, outside the courthouse aver being convicted on three of eight counts in his federal fraud trial, in Brooklyn. Photo: The New York Times
Published: 6:35 PM, September 8, 2017

NEW YORK — Martin Shkreli’s social-media habits have once again gotten him in serious trouble: A post of his about Hillary Clinton set off a Secret Service investigation and a request from federal prosecutors to revoke his bail because he poses “a risk of danger to the community.”

Prosecutors told the federal judge overseeing Shkreli’s case that they were concerned that his followers would “take his statements seriously — as has happened previously — and act on them.” Judge Kiyo A Matsumoto scheduled a Sept 14 hearing on the government’s motion, which, if upheld, would return Shkreli to jail.

Shkreli, 34, a pharmaceutical executive who gained infamy for his price increase for the lifesaving drug Daraprim, was convicted in August after a five-week trial on three of eight fraud counts related to hedge funds he ran.

He remains free on US$5 million (S$6.68 million) bail, as he has been since shortly after his arrest in 2015.

The prosecutors’ request involves a Facebook post of Shkreli’s from Monday (Sept 4). “On HRC’s book tour, try to grab a hair from her,” Shkreli wrote, referring to Ms Clinton, who has a book scheduled to come out next week. “Will pay US$5,000 per hair obtained from Hillary Clinton.”

Several hours later, he added a line saying the post was “satire,” according to the prosecution filing, and later deleted the entire thing, a day after telling his lawyer, prosecutors and the Secret Service that he would.

The Secret Service, which protects Clinton, spent “significant additional resources” investigating Shkreli’s offer and tried to interview him. He posted on Facebook that he had declined but would be “peacefully protesting the Hillary Clinton book signing in NYC,” according to the filing.

Prosecutors say Shkreli may have violated federal and state law with his post.

Benjamin Brafman, Shkreli’s lawyer, said in an email that he took the matter seriously and that he would file a response Friday. “However inappropriate some of Mr Shkreli’s postings may have been, we do not believe that he intended harm and do not believe that he poses a danger to the community,” Mr Brafman wrote.

The government cited other online statements Shkreli had made, including toward a female journalist, as “an escalating pattern of public threats to others.”

A sentencing date has not been set for him. While he faces as much as 20 years in prison, his lawyers have said they may ask for no prison time.

Although defendants usually act formally and politely during a federal case — and certainly during the period between conviction and sentence — Shkreli has not.

His social-media posts and other outspoken behaviour were a factor in his trial. Midway through, Judge Matsumoto ordered him to stop talking in and around US District Court in Brooklyn after he popped into a roomful of reporters and criticised the prosecution as “junior varsity.”

During the trial, he live-streamed regularly after spending the day in court; after the verdict, he live-streamed again, saying that his prison time would be “close to nil.”

Just after the verdict, speaking alongside Shkreli outside court, Mr Brafman said he would discuss his client’s “image issue” with him in the next few days.

Shkreli continued with his Facebook posts well into Thursday evening. “Lol Hillary Clinton’s presumptive agents are hard at work. It was just a prank, bro!” he wrote. An hour later he posted, about the government, “Come at me with your hardest because I haven’t seen anything impressive yet.” THE NEW YORK TIMES