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Martin Shkreli Found Guilty On Several Counts Of Securities Fraud


Former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli was found guilty today on charges of securities fraud. Shkreli became known for a while as the most hated man in America for jacking up the price on a life-saving drug. But the trial that ended today had nothing to do with that. It was about what he did as a hedge fund manager.

Joining us now is Charles Lane of member station WSHU. Hi there.

CHARLES LANE, BYLINE: Hey. How are you?

SHAPIRO: It took the jury five days to come to this guilty verdict. And Shkreli's lawyers called it a good outcome. How so?

LANE: Well, he was only found guilty on 3 of the 8 fraud and conspiracy charges, which is enough to put him in prison. But Shkreli's lawyer doesn't think there'll be much, if any, jail time because Shkreli wasn't convicted on the most serious charge - that of defrauding one of his companies. What prosecutors tried to argue was that Shkreli stole money from the company he founded, Retrophin, in order to repay investors. But ultimately the jury didn't agree.

SHAPIRO: You said the jury didn't convict him on the most serious charge. Any idea why not?

LANE: Well, I mean we don't know exactly what they were thinking. But they did indicate early in their deliberations that they were wrestling with this idea of fraudulent intent. And then the strategy for Shkreli's lawyers all along was that Shkreli was working hard to make his clients money. If he did commit fraud and tell a few lies to make that happen, it was all in good faith to get his clients paid.

And so Shkreli's lawyer, Ben Brafman - he worked hard to show that there was no intent for fraud by describing Shkreli as working day and night and sleeping on the floor and trying to turn this hedge fund around. And the other key point that Shkreli's lawyer argued was that everyone made money. There were no losses. Everybody made millions of dollars. You know, Shkreli's lawyer actually had a poster made up when he was giving his closing arguments that that said, where are the victims? Ultimately the jury didn't agree with Shkreli here. They said that Shkreli's lies and doctored statements did amount to fraud.

SHAPIRO: Shkreli's reputation was so widely and negatively covered in the months leading up to this trial. Did that likely have any impact on the jury?

LANE: His actions in the pharmaceutical industry didn't come up at all mostly because he declined to testify in his own defense. And on top of that, during jury selection, any juror who said they knew anything about his behavior before in his testimony before Congress for raising the price of the medicine - they were excluded. So it's very likely that this jury knew nothing about his poor reputation in the public sphere.

But - and Shkreli was also more meek during the trial. And - but, you know, that's not saying much. He - on Facebook, he openly mocked the trial as a witch hunt and ridiculed prosecutors and taunted journalists. But again, because jurors aren't supposed to sort of consume that Facebook content, it's doubtful that jurors were aware of any of this.

But that's not to say that it didn't hang like a specter over the case. More than a few have speculated that the government brought this case and brought it this hard because there wasn't a crime associated with what people really revile him for, which is price gouging.

SHAPIRO: And briefly, what happens now?

LANE: Shkreli's lawyer wasn't specific about any sort of an upheaval or anything like that. But he did say there are post-trial motions to consider. And when asked, Shkreli scoffed at the idea that he would be going to jail at all. He appeared very confident that he would only face some minor monetary penalties.

SHAPIRO: That's Charles Lane of member station WSHU. Thanks a lot.

LANE: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF KUTIMAN'S "WHITE MONKEY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, a National Murrow, and he was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.