There's still no jury for the Martin Shkreli trial

Andrew Cummings
June 28, 2017

Former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli's reputation - for hiking the price of a lifesaving drug, for purchasing a $2 million Wu Tang Clan album, and for pissing off a lawmaker by refusing to testify before Congress - precedes him, a fact that is complicating jury selection for his trial on securities fraud charges. He's been accused of running a Ponzi-like scheme, where he founded new companies and used their assets to pay off debts from other companies he owns.

Shkreli, 34, gained notoriety after raising the cost of Daraprim - a life-saving drug used to help those with cancer and AIDS fight infection - from $13.50 to $750.

Shkreli's lawyer Benjamin Brafman said Monday the jury pool was "irreparably tainted" from the exposure to the coverage that, he contended, questioned how anyone could fairly be a juror on Shkreli's five- to six-week trial.

As a result, jury selection is set to be far more hard than usual.

During questioning, one of them described Shkreli as "the most hated man in America", while another called him "the face of corporate greed".

But a number of prospective jurors were let go yesterday when they said they could not ignore the increase. One potential juror said, "He's a snake". Shkreli's lawyer Ben Brafman said many more were excused because they had conflicting plans, health problems or family issues.

Mr Shkreli was head of Turing Pharmaceuticals when the price hike of Daraprim occurred.

Matsumoto assured him there was no reason to be afraid - and the man was ultimately dismissed because he couldn't move a planned vacation - but the claim still bothered Shkreli's attorney.

On Tuesday, the judge denied defense requests to start the selection process over and ban reporters from listening in on sidebars, reported.

Matsumoto seemed delighted when she finally came across a woman in her 20s who said she hadn't heard of Shkreli or his case.

Another potential juror made a throat-throttling gesture as she denounced Shkreli.

Shkreli's upcoming trial is not about Turing but about Shkreli's management at his previous drug company, Retrophin Inc, and the hedge fund MSMB Capital Management between 2009 and 2012.

A lockdown has been lifted at an Alabama military installation, though officials say they are still investigating a possible active shooter incident there.

Even after advised by Matsumoto that Shkreli is not facing charges related to raising drug prices, the potential juror said she couldn't be impartial and was excused. The defense says that Shkreli had good intentions.

"This is the price gouger of drugs".

After being arrested in December 2015, Shkreli posted bond of $5 million to secure his release. "A person that puts profit over everything else?"

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