“Pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, who made millions off the backs of patients when his pharmaceutical company raised the price of a lifesaving HIV/AIDS drug, is trying to make himself appear richer than he really is, according to his lawyers.
The ex-pharmaceutical executive is slated to stand trial next week on federal securities fraud charges, but on Monday his lawyers asked the judge to shave $3 million off of his $5 million bail. The reason? He apparently needs the cash to pay taxes, accountants and skyrocketing legal costs, The Daily Beast reported.
Not so fast, said federal prosecutors, who cited a bevy of social media posts that appear to show Shkreli has ample available cash.
On May 26 Shkreli pledged a $100,000 reward to anyone who could solve the mystery of who killed Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.
He promised a Princeton University student $40,000 for solving a difficult mathematical proof.
“Tweeting has become, unfortunately, fashionable, When people tweet, they don’t always mean what they say,” defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman said, appearing to suggest Shkreli had lied in his social media boasts.
Shkreli, who cited his net worth at about $70 million in 2015 when he was arrested, still has millions, but Brafman said most of his assets are tied up in stocks, which cannot be easily liquidated.
But prosecutors shed doubt on whether Shkreli is really as cash poor as he claims to be or if he’s just trying to con the courts. They pointed out Shkreli has previously bragged about owning an unreleased Lil Wayne album, a Picasso painting, and a World War II-era Enigma code-breaking machine.
He also spent $2 million for a one-of-a-kind double album by Wu-Tang Clan — Brafman admitted that one was a “bad investment,” according to USA Today.
The judge did not rule on the bail matter, saying he needed more information on Shkreli’s financial situation.
Shkreli was dubbed “the most hated man in America” for his scheme that raised the price of lifesaving antiparasitic drugs for HIV/AIDS patients, but that’s actually not what landed him in legal trouble.
The fraud charges stem from a 2015 criminal indictment that accuses Shkreli of running a sort of Ponzi scheme on hedge fund investors. Shkreli has denied the accusations, but on Monday, his defense team said, “The defendant, whatever he did wrong [to investors], ultimately made them whole.”
Maybe that’s what happened to his missing $70 million.