CRIME
06/26/2017 05:01 pm ET

Jury Selection For 'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli's Trial Proving A Problem

Asked about drug prices, one potential juror pretended to wring Shkreli's neck.

Jury selection for Martin Shkreli’s trial on fraud began Monday, and it appears his lawyer has his work cut out finding an impartial panel.

By 1:00 p.m., close to 70 possible jurors, out of a pool of 130, had already been excused from the case, and none had been seated. While most were excused for issues unrelated to Shkreli, many of those who were aware of the so-called “pharma bro” did nothing to hide their disdain.

“I think [Shkreli is] a very evil man,” one juror told U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto in Brooklyn.

I think [Shkreli is] a very evil man.

Another juror pretended to wring Shkreli’s neck as he sat several feet away in the courtroom, saying she viewed him as “a person who puts profit over everything else,” the Daily Beast reported

“Ahhh, it’s that guy,” a third juror said, recognizing Shkreli. 

Several jurors expressed anger at Shkreli’s background in pharmaceuticals, though the charges leveled against him are for financial fraud in a different industry.

Shkreli gained infamy in 2015 when, as the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, he raised the cost of an anti-parasite drug often prescribed to HIV/AIDS patients by 5,000 percent, from $13.50 a pill to $750.

“From everything I’ve read, I believe the defendant is the face of corporate greed in America,” another prospective juror said, according to CNBC

One woman recalled how her parents are struggling to pay their monthly medical bills, including her father’s cancer medication, which costs $1,000 a month. She referred to Shkreli as “the most hated man in America.”

And still other jurors, some with little to no knowledge of who Shkreli is, nevertheless still took issue with him.

I looked right at him and in my head I said, ‘That’s a snake.’

“I looked right at him and in my head I said, ‘That’s a snake,’” said one woman.

Despite what appears to be an uphill legal battle, Shkreli seems optimistic about his chances. In an interview with the Financial Times, he found solace in comparing his case ― and the publicity surrounding it ― to the O.J. Simpson murder trial

“I have this fringe theory that I’ve sort of stress-tested a little bit ― the more polarizing and popular a case is,” he said, “the more likely an acquittal.”

“I’m so innocent, the jury, judge and the prosecution are gonna give me an apology,” Shkreli predicted in a video he posted on the internet ahead of the trial, which has since been taken down.

Once a jury is seated, the trial is expected to take around four to six weeks. He stands accused of lying to investors in one hedge fund and siphoning millions of dollars from a separate company to pay them, in what prosecutors describe as a Ponzi-like scheme.

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