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Lawyers Have Trouble Finding Impartial Jurors in Martin Shrekli Trial
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Martin Shkreli and his attorney Benjamin Brafman. Photo courtesy of Fox News.

Summary: Monday kick-started the beginning of Martin Shkreli’s criminal trial.

Martin Shkreli has earned the nicknames “Pharma Bro” and “The Most Hated Man in America,” and his infamy is apparently causing a headache for the lawyers involved in his criminal trial. According to Bloomberg, Shkreli’s negative reputation is making it hard for both sides to find 12 jurors in Brooklyn who have impartial feelings towards him.

  
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Shkreli, 34, is being accused of federal securities fraud. While everyone knows him as the jerk who hiked up the price of Daraprim by nearly 5,000%, he is on trial for an alleged Ponzi scheme. Prosecutors said that he allegedly defrauded investors in two hedge funds by using $11 million of his company’s assets to pay them off.

Shkreli’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, denied the charges in a court filing earlier this month.

“Shkreli did not defraud the investors and then make it up to them later with a different investment. This may be the Government’s view, but it’s not ours,” Brafman said. “At trial, the defendant will show that Mr. Shkreli never, at any time, intended for a single investor to lose a dime. Not in the short term; not in the long term; not ever.”

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On Monday, lawyers in the case interviewed potential jurors, but none of them seemed to be impartial. According to Bloomberg, one possible juror in her 30s called Shkreli “an evil man” before she was dismissed. Another lady called him a “snake.” Several other rejected jurors said that they blamed him for the increased price of the EpiPen, which he actually did not do but defended publicly.

Shkreli, the founder of Retrophin Inc. and Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, has a distinctive persona. The pale man with greasy dark hair always seems to be smirking; and online, he frequently boasts about his money and mistreatment of people. For instance, he paid high dollar for the only copy of a Wu-Tang Clan album, and then he promised to never share it, disappointing numerous fans.



Last week, U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto of Brooklyn said she wanted prosecutors and the defense to deliver opening statements on Monday. Unfortunately, this did not happen because the selection process was unsuccessful. At least 130 prospective jurors were dismissed, and on Tuesday, approximately 100 will be screened.

On Monday, Shkreli’s lawyer Brafman took some of the potential jurors to task by cutting them off when they tried to rant about Shkreli’s greedy reputation.

“I am anticipating an article, a piece, that will further complicate the already complicated job of defending someone so many people feel strongly about,” Brafman said.

Shkreli started his career on Wall Street as an intern at a hedge fund firm before he struck out on his own, working in the healthcare industry. He developed a reputation as an aggressive investor, and he ended up on Forbes’ “30 under 30” list.

In 2015, Shkreli moved into the mainstream spotlight when he raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill. That whopping increase drew the attention of everyone from the media to 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton; and the overall public sentiment was the same–Shkreli was a greedy person who put profits over people.

“Our shareholders expect us to make as much money as possible,” Shkreli said at the time. “That’s the ugly, dirty truth.”

Shkreli’s trial is slated to last for four to six weeks, and he is facing up to 20 years in prison.

What do you think of Martin Shkreli? Let us know in the comments below.



 

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