Potential Jurors Hate "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli, Think He's A "Dick"

Gladys Abbott
June 28, 2017

FILE - In this Monday, June 19, 2017, file photo, former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli, second from right, arrives at Brooklyn federal court with members of his legal team, in NY, for a pretrial conference in his securities fraud trial.

He earned the title of "Pharma Bro" and sparked outrage in 2015 for hiking the price of a life-saving drug used by AIDS patients by more than 5,000 percent.

In all, 134 prospective jurors were tossed Monday, many due to their caustic assessments of the former pharma boss - who is accused of an $11 million Ponzi scheme, but is best known for jacking up the price of an AIDS drug - plus another 70 Tuesday.

But if the first day of jury selection is any indication, he's unlikely to have much luck finding average citizens who can maintain a neutral stance on the controversial life sciences investor.

Turns out picking a jury for Martin Shkreli, who's been called the "most-hated man in America", is hard.

A third man said, "He kind of looks like a d--".

But as the NYT discovered, many of those dismissed were let go because they already had such a negative view of Shkreli.

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One said she had not known what the trial was about when she walked in and saw Mr. Shkreli. That trend continued on Tuesday, with the judge releasing dozens more of the 69 she questioned, including a woman who said she read about Shkreli and thought he "just seems to care about himself". One potential juror said his children were taking drugs made by Shkreli's companies and called him "the price gouger".

After being arrested in December 2015, Shkreli posted bond of $5 million to secure his release.

The judge denied defense requests to start the selection process over and ban reporters from listening in on sidebars. One woman said that people who invest in the stock market know that it's a "scam", and said she would "never convict" Shkreli.

Before he made headlines as the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Shkreli founded a pharmaceutical company, Retrophin, and a pair of hedge funds, MSMB Capital Management and MSMB Healthcare. Brafman intends to argue in court that Shkreli lacked the requisite criminal intent to defraud investors and relied on his trusted counsel, Greebel.

But some said they couldn't be impartial for other reasons.

The 34-year-old Shkreli "travels to the beat of a very unique drummer", exasperated-sounding defense attorney Benjamin Brafman said at a pretrial hearing this month.

Shkreli's emergence on the national stage coincided with a larger debate about rising drug prices, and Shkreli appeared to relish the attention, or at least not shrink from it. "A person who puts profit over everything else".

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