"Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli sentenced to 7 years in prison for fraud

Last Updated Mar 9, 2018 2:30 PM EST

Former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli wept and apologized before being sentenced to seven years in prison on Friday for securities fraud. A U.S. District Court judge in Brooklyn handed down the sentence after a jury in August found him guilty of defrauding investors in his hedge funds. 

In handing down her sentence, Judge Kiyo Matsumoto said she believed Shkreli to be genuinely remorseful for his crimes, but she expressed concern that a minimal sentence might not deter him in future.

Telling the judge he was in front of her due to his "gross, stupid negligent mistakes," Shkreli's voice broke as he tearfully apologized to those who invested in two hedge funds he oversaw, and added that he did not want to let anyone down again.

"Please give me a chance to show what I'm capable of," Shkreli said in concluding his statement.

Prosecutors had asked for a prison term of at least 15 years, while Shkreli's attorneys requested far less, appealing for a 12-to-18 months sentence.

The 34-year-old Shkreli became the face of Wall Street greed when he hiked the cost of AIDS drug Daraprim by 5,000 percent as chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals.

Shkreli's lawyer Benjamin Brafman urged the federal judge at Friday's not to hold his client's outspokenness against him, drawing assurances from Matsumoto that the defendant's online media presence and public backlash over Turing's pricing of Daraprim, which was not at issue in the securities case, would not affect in her sentencing decision.

The defense offered the judge several letters from Shkreli and his supporters, including former colleagues who described him as a self-made contributor to pharmaceutical advances. 

Other testimonials on the defendant's behalf were more offbeat, with one follower of Shkreli's social media commentary describing it as "on par with some form of performance art."Another backer relayed Shkreli's adopting a cat from a shelter, with the feline named Trashy becoming a fixture in his livestreams on YouTube. 

Prosecutors argued that the public need to be protected from Shkreli, calling him "dangerous," and saying he's an adult who should be held accountable for his actions. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis declared Shkreli deserved a lengthy sentence not because he was "the most hated man in Ameria," but because he had been convicted of serious crimes.

His legal woes stemmed from his role overseeing two hedge funds from 2009 to 2014, prior to his taking the helm of Turing.

Called a "con man who stole millions" by one federal prosecutor, Shkreli earlier in the week was ordered to hand over $7.4 million in a brokerage account and personal assets including a one-of-a-kind edition of an album by the Wu-Tang Clan.

The judge on Friday also imposed a $75,000 fine apart from the $7.4 million forfeiture that she on Monday ruled Shkreli must pay. 

Before his sentencing, Shkreli had been jailed since September for offering $5,000 for each sample of Hillary Clinton's hair that his social media followers brought to him.

Typically brash and defiant, Shkreli had adopted a more contrite stance of late, telling the judge overseeing his case in a letter that "I accept the fact that I made serious mistakes, but I still believe I am a good person with much potential."

Before adjourning court, Judge Matsumoto told Shkreli she hoped he would continue instructing inmates, as he has been doing in jail.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report