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SCOTUS Refuses to Take Up Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli’s Case


Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli just had his hopes dashed, courtesy of the United States Supreme Court.

Shkreli is serving a seven-year prison sentence for securities and wire fraud. At trial, the jury found that Shkreli had defrauded investors by lying to them about their hedge funds, and by secretly owning shares in his company Retrophin.

In his petition asking the Supreme Court to reconsider his conviction, Shkreli argued that the jury was prejudiced by receiving a confusing jury instruction in conjunction with their deliberations.  The trial court instructed the jury that securities fraud requires “no ultimate harm” – a distinguishing factor as compared with other types of fraud. Shkreli argued that specifically pointing out that a showing of harm wasn’t needed amounted to holding him to a higher standard of conduct than the statute required – thereby undermining his “good faith” defense.

Shkreli also argued that the court should have offset any proceeds Shrkeli obtained from defrauded investors with gains those investors eventually realized, or expenses Shkreli “incurred in providing the goods or services.” In other words, he wanted the court to redo the math so that his crimes don’t seem quite as bad. The Supreme Court had no interest in revisiting the case, and denied certiorari; Shkreli’s conviction will stand.

Shkreli was an overnight media villain; public outrage was ignited over Shkreli’s hiking the price of AIDS drugs, his patently smug testimony before Congress, and his offering money in exchange for someone to grab hair off of Hillary Clinton‘s head during her book tour (a remark that ultimately resulted in the revocation of Shkreli’s bail). Even the guy’s own lawyer seemed to lose patience with him – once saying that he wanted to punch Shkreli in the face. That attorney, Benjamin Brafman (of short-lived Harvey Weinstein legal team) must have gotten over his frustrations with Shkreli, though, as he is an attorney of record on Shrkeli’s now-denied 48-page petition for certiorari.

Although Shkreli was the subject of significant media attention, SCOTUS did nothing shine a spotlight on the infamous pharmaceutical executive. Instead, Shkreli v. United States was simply listed along with scores of other cases under the heading “CERTIORARI DENIED.”

[image via Drew Angerer and Getty Images]

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos