NEW YORK — Federal prosecutors told a judge on Tuesday that “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli should get 15 years behind bars for cheating wealthy investors in his failed hedge funds — a sentence 10 times what his defense says he deserves.
The recommendation in a filing in federal court in Brooklyn came after lawyers for the convicted former pharmaceutical company CEO sought to portray him as a misunderstood eccentric who never meant any harm to investors. They argued he should get credit for making the investors whole by giving them stock in a successful drug company and that no more than 18 months in prison would be appropriate.
Shkreli himself has asked U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto for leniency at a sentencing set for Friday, writing in a letter to the court, “I was wrong. I was a fool. I should have known better.”
Prosecutors called the portrayal misleading for an unrepentant fraudster who stole from investors for personal needs and repeatedly lied to them to cover it up.
“It does not accurately reflect who he truly is — a man who stands before this court without any showing of genuine remorse, a man who has consistently chosen to put profit and the cultivation of a public image before all else and a man who believes the ends always justify the means,” they wrote.
Shkreli, 34, became notorious for raising the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent and by trolling critics on the Internet with his snarky “Pharma Bro” persona.
Even after his arrest in 2015, he taunted authorities in Facebook posts. And after his conviction last year, the judge revoked his bail and jailed him when he said he would pay a $5,000 bounty to anyone who could get a lock of Hillary Clinton’s hair while the prominent Democrat was on a book tour.
The defense suffered a setback on Monday when the judge ruled Shkreli will have to forfeit more than $7.3 million in a brokerage account and personal assets that include his one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album that Shkreli has boasted he bought for $2 million. The judge said the property won’t be seized until Shkreli has a chance to appeal.