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Ex-CEO's reputation precedes him, affects jury selection

28 June 2017, 05:19 | Ruben Thornton

Ex-CEO's reputation precedes him, affects jury selection

Martin Shkreli defies advice to keep quiet before his fraud trial

Martin Shkreli, the former Turing Pharmaceuticals executive, arrives for the first day of jury selection in his federal securities fraud trial Monday at U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"The price has been going up in the last few years, so they can't afford their drugs", the prospective juror said of his parents.

Jury selection started out slowly in the trial of the price-gouging "pharma bro" Martin Shkreli, because potential jurors just don't like him. While Shkreli is perhaps best known for his unapologetic decision to raise the price of a drug used by HIV patients more than 5,000%, he's facing federal criminal charges for allegedly defrauding investors. "They're struggling to pay" for their daily medical routine.

The real Shkreli was a con man often undone by his own mouth, they say.

When Judge Matsumoto told prospective jurors that Mr. Shkreli's work in pharmaceuticals was not on trial, the prosecutor Alixandra Smith corrected her.

"The defendant is the face of corporate greed in America", another potential member of the panel said.

"He kind of looks like a dick", the man said. His ownership stake in Turing Pharmaceutics, which hiked the price of the drug Daraprim, is worth $30 million to $50 million, but his lawyer says the he can'tsell it without shareholder approval.

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Shkreli's attorney, Benjamin Brafman, joked about the woman's strongly negative reaction.

He said Shkreli's lawyers had objected to a reporter's presence at the sidebar for that reason, among others. Another admitted, "I have total disdain for the man".

Matsumoto seemed delighted when she finally came across a woman in her 20s who said she hadn't heard of Shkreli or his case. "I looked right at him, and in my head, I said, "That's a snake" - not knowing who he was", the woman said.

At least three other jurors mistakenly believed Shkreli was responsible for raising the cost of EpiPen - an allergy injection - and could therefore not be fair toward him.

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.

Lawyers for Shkreli complained Tuesday that news coverage is tainting the jury pool.

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