Opinion by C J Oakes
The securities and wire fraud trial of Martin Shkreli is under way and the jurors today asked the judge about intent. This is a good sign for the defense, but not so much for the rest of America. By asking about intent, the jury is clearly leaning in the direction of giving Mr. Shkreli a pass on the charges that he committed securities fraud. The defense argument from the start has been that Shkreli did not intend to defraud those who invested with his company and that he in fact lost money on the deal.
The same way he lost money when he bought the rights to a life-saving medicine then jacked the price 56 times the original from $13.50 per dose to $750.00! Shkreli came under fire by the United States Congress for that one and during questioning showed remarkable contempt for the body, ignoring questions, rolling his eyes, and grinning at the most inappropriate times.
It was largely this event which earned him the moniker, “The most hated man in America.” In fact, this hatred runs so deep, the courts had a difficult time finding jurors would could be objective.
So, it stands to reason that if Martin Shkreli is found not-guilty on the charges he is facing, there could be rioting in the streets. The National Guard may have to be brought in. Martial law could be imposed. Heck, the very fabric of the nation could be torn asunder…
Ok, well, maybe things won’t get that extreme, but to be sure, there are going to be a bunch of really sore folks.
The FBI, DOJ, SEC, and Robber Barons of Old
Martin Shkreli is the kind of fellow that would make the Robber Barons of old jump up and smoke a fat cigar in celebration. Just like the Robber Barons bragged at their thievery, Shkreli seems to love just shoving his exploits in the eye of those tasked with protecting the public interest. He acts as if he knows something they don’t…that he has an ace up his sleeve they cannot detect.
His recent hedge fund “failures” MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare are not his only foray into the SEC’s forbidden territory. As early as 2003 when Marty was only 19, the Securities and Exchange Commission took a closer look at his trading behavior. After successfully short-selling a biotech stock then following it up with an accurate (and very profitable) prediction about stock prices at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, the SEC investigated him but found nothing to charge him with.
That was then, this is now.
If there is one thing we know about the U.S. Government‘s enforcement agencies is that they are like sharks. Once they smell blood in the water, they keep circling. That is why the Robber Barons do not flaunt their talents today. Sure, they exist, but they keep out of the spotlight and they certainly never laugh at Congress on national TV after they have just raped the public.
Martin Shkreli may win this one, but he has placed a big target on his head. The Most Hated Man In America is certain to join Abramoff, Madoff, Lay, and similar big target fraudsters of the modern age in the history books. Just give him time. He’s still young.
Update: On August 4, 2017, Martin Shkreli was found guilty on 3 of the 8 counts against him. After five days, the jury rendered guilty verdicts on securities fraud and conspiracy while finding him not-guilty on the remaining counts. Next up: Sentencing. Considering how pleased both Shkreli and his attorney, Benjamin Braufman were with the verdict, do not expect that to amount to much.