NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical CEO notorious for his “Pharma Bro” persona and price-gouging scandal, was headed to jail Wednesday, in part over comments he made about Hillary Clinton.
A judge ruled the provocative online antics of Shkreli, who is awaiting sentencing for a securities fraud conviction, were bad enough to put him behind bars. He was taken into custody immediately.
Defense attorney, Ben Brafman, had argued that Shkreli’s recent offer to pay a $5,000 bounty for someone to snatch a hair off Clinton’s head during her book tour was merely a tasteless joke compared to some of President Donald Trump’s derisive comments, not a threat worthy of landing him in jail.
“Indeed, in the current political climate, dissent has unfortunately often taken the form of political satire, hyperbole, parody or sarcasm,” Brafman wrote in court papers. “There is a difference, however, between comments that are intended to threaten or harass and comments — albeit offensive ones — that are intended as political satire or strained humor.”
“You have to read it in the context of this crazy blog,” Brafman added in court. “Sometimes stupid is plain stupid.”
The judge wasn’t buying it, calling the post a solicitation of assault, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported.
Prosecutors had argued the post prompted the Secret Service to use more resources, because it ran the risk that many of Shkreli’s social media followers would think he was serious.
Of his apology letter to the court, the judge said, “He doesn’t have to apologize to me. He should be apologizing to the government and to Secretary Clinton.”
“She’s the judge,” Brafman said afterward. “Right now, we will have to live with this decision.”
So now, he will sit in federal lockup until his sentencing in January.
Shkreli, who is best known for hiking up the price of a life-saving drug and for trolling his critics on social media, was found guilty last month on charges — unrelated to the price-fixing scandal — that he cheated investors in two failed hedge funds he ran.
At the time, Shkreli has said he felt “exonerated” despite his conviction and thought there’s a “50-50 chance” he won’t face any punishment.