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Martin Shkreli Released from Prison Early


Martin Shkreli | Image by Getty / Tom Williams

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Former American hedge fund manager and pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli was released from federal prison on Wednesday, May 18, and transferred to a halfway house after serving four of seven years, the Federal Bureau of Prisons told NPR.

Shkreli was found guilty of two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud by a federal jury in 2017. He was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2018.

According to his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, the former head of Turing Pharmaceuticals, was released from Allenwood prison and is currently living in an undisclosed New York Bureau of Prisons halfway house.

Brafman said Shkreli had completed programs that allowed his sentence to be shorted.

According to CNBC, Brafman added, “While in the halfway house, I have encouraged Mr. Shkreli to make no further statement, nor will he or I have any additional comments at this time.”

Shkreli was arrested by the FBI and charged with securities fraud earlier in 2017 after he had misled investors about the use of their money, which the prosecution described as “a Ponzi scheme.”

His lawyers argued that none of his clients lost money, and all of the investments made by Shkreli’s fund turned a profit.

CNBC reported that one client testified at the trial that her investments returned more money than Shkreli had promised.

During the trial, Shkreli was released on a $5 million bond, but CNBC reported a federal judge later revoked the bond when she determined that Shkreli was a danger to the public after posting a $5,000 reward on social media for a strand of Hillary Clinton’s hair.

After conviction, Shkreli was ordered to forfeit the $5 million in his E*Trade account and $2.36 million in other assets. Those assets included an original painting by Spanish painter Pablo Picasso and the only known copy of Once Upon A Time in Shaolin, an album by the New York-based rap collective The Wu-Tang Clan.

According to The Sun, federal authorities state that the recording and other assets were auctioned off to anonymous buyers at undisclosed prices.

Earlier this year, a federal judge issued a lifetime ban against Shkreli forbidding him from serving as “director or officer” on the board of any publicly-traded company.

The New York Post reported Shkreli’s lawyers had argued that his seven-year prison sentence and millions in asset forfeitures were punishment enough and had requested only a 10-year ban.

According to the New York Daily News, Shkreli was nicknamed “Pharma Bro” by the media after a photo of Shkreli wearing sunglasses and posing circulated on Twitter.

The moniker saw widespread use during a Congressional hearing in which Shkreli testified about actions taken by Turing Pharmaceuticals, the second pharmaceutical company he owned.

At Shkreli’s behest, Turing raised the price of daraprim, a life-saving anti-parasitic drug that treats toxoplasmosis and is frequently used by patients infected with HIV/AIDS, from $14.50 to $750 a pill.

According to MedCity News, Shkreli later stated that the increase was intended to fund research on new drugs that could be considerably more effective than daraprim.

The CEO also stated on YouTube that the increase solely affected insurance companies and not consumers.

However, Shkreli did not explain this at the congressional hearing. The Washington Post described his attitude as “public rage-inducing smugness,” and the BBC called him “the most hated man in America.”

ABC News reported that Shkreli referred to the securities fraud trial as “a witch hunt” and believed he was only charged as payback over the drug price increase from August 2016.     

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