Least-favorite son: Sheepshead Bay native Martin Shkreli back in Brooklyn for fraud trial
This hometown boy did not get a warm welcome home.
Dozens of New Yorkers just can’t stand the Sheepshead Bay-born-and-bred Martin Shkreli — also known as “pharma bro” and “the most hated man in America” — who jacked up the prices of life-saving drugs.
Shkreli is back in his native Brooklyn for trial on fraud charges. The federal court case kicked off this week, but lawyers and the judge had a hard time finding jurors who can keep an open mind about the alleged Ponzi-schemer, who famously smirked as he repeatedly took the Fifth when testifying before Congress about pharmaceutical price-gouging.
One potential juror who got the boot suggested he wanted to sock Shkreli in his notoriously punchable face.
“I don’t really like this person. I can’t understand why someone would take a medication that people need and jack up the price,” said the man in a shaky voice as he raised his fists as if ready for the ring. “I would just go over there — I’m sorry judge, is he just stupid or crazy? I can’t understand.”
Shkreli — who declined to comment on whether growing up in a once-quaint fishing village made him the man he is today — faces up to 20 years in prison for allegedly running a multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme while the head of his drug company Retrophin.
The former hedge-fund manager has gained infamy for gouging the price of a drug for AIDS patients from $13.50 to $750 per pill overnight in 2015, trolling a journalist and the popular hip-hop group Wu Tang Clan on social media, and making plenty of other crude and callous comments on a variety of media venues — none of which he’s on trial for now — though several would-be jurors couldn’t help but admit they just want to see Shkreli behind bars, no matter what.
“In this particular case, the only thing I’d be impartial about is which prison he goes to,” said one man before walking out the door.
Another potential juror said he couldn’t forgive the 34-year-old Shkreli for attacking members of the Staten Island-based Wu Tang Clan on Twitter, after he purchased the only copy of one of their exclusive albums for $2 million and then released it in celebration right after President Trump’s electoral-college victory in November.
“I can’t say if he’s, like, totally guilty — he’s probably guilty. In no way can I let him slide out of anything. This is my attitude towards his whole demeanor, and he disrespected the Wu Tang Clan, so …” the man said, before getting cut off by the judge and shown the door.
Shkreli’s attorneys, federal prosecutors, and the judge had questioned more than 300 jurors since June 26, with nearly all of them getting excused — many because they admitted feeling similarly to the potential juror who said, “Just looking at him kind of twists my stomach, to be honest.”
But all jurors had been seated by late afternoon on June 28, and opening arguments began shortly after that, according to the New York Post.
Judge Kiyo Matsumoto expects the trial to last about six weeks, but jurors are skeptical.
“Looking at all of these lawyers, I think it’s going to be more than a six-week trial,” one guy said before getting excused for being self-employed.
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