Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical CEO who increased the price of a life-saving drug, is on trial for fraud charges

By Char Adams
June 29, 2017 10:49 AM
Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli On Trial For Securities Fraud
Credit: Peter Foley/Bloomberg/Getty

Martin Shkreli‘s attorney used a pair of Lady Gaga lyrics during opening statements on Wednesday to defend the embattled former pharmaceutical CEO as his trial on fraud charges begins.

The 34-year-old is facing eight counts of securities and wire fraud for allegedly misleading investors and illegally using funds from a biotech company he once ran, the New York Times reports. And his attorney, Benjamin Brafman, gave an attention-grabbing speech to the Brooklyn court, in which he described Shkreli as an awkward, “odd duck” who often wore bunny slippers around the office.

“As Lady Gaga said, he was born this way,” Brafman said at the Federal District Court. “You wanna call him names? Call him names. Just don’t call him guilty. ‘Cause he’s not guilty.”

Although Shkreli is facing fraud charges, he is most known for increasing a life-saving drug’s price by 5,000 percent in 2015. After drawing criticism for the increase, a series of social media posts and headline-making moves — including buying the only known copy of a mystery Wu-Tang Clan album — kept the controversial entrepreneur in the public eye.

“The question is going to be whether the case is nuts: Nobody was defrauded, nobody lost any money,” Brafman claimed in court, according to the Times.

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Brafman called on Gaga’s music a second time, mentioning the singer’s 2016 hit “Million Reasons,” according to CNBC.

“The government’s going to stand up and give you 100 million reasons to convict Mr. Shkreli,” he said. “I’m going to give you one good reason to acquit him … he’s not guilty.”

The attorney painted Shkreli as a “brilliant” man who was bullied by co-workers and called “Rain Man” by colleagues who believed he was autistic and who questioned his sexuality, CNBC reports.

Despite Brafman’s theatrics, prosecutor G. Karthik Srinivasan took a no-nonsense approach during his opening statement, saying that Shkreli convinced investors he was “a Wall Street genius,” according to the Times.

“In reality, he was just a con man,” Srinivasan said.