July 5, 2017 / 4:46 PM / 19 days ago

'Pharma bro' Shkreli barred from discussing trial around courthouse

3 Min Read

July 5 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Wednesday ordered Martin Shkreli to stop talking about his fraud case in or around the Brooklyn courthouse where he is standing trial, five days after the former drug company executive burst into a room full of spectators and attacked the credibility of a government witness.

U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto's order did not bar Shkreli from making any public statements about the case, as prosecutors had requested in a motion filed Monday, according to John Marzulli, a spokesman for the prosecutors.

Shkreli, 34, gained notoriety in 2015 when he raised the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, sparking outrage among patients and U.S. lawmakers and earning him the nickname "pharma bro."

The charges he now faces stem not from his time at Turing, but from his management of hedge funds MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare and of pharmaceutical company Retrophin Inc between 2009 and 2014.

Shkreli last week told reporters that an alleged victim of his was not actually a victim, because she made money from his investments, attorneys for the government said in Monday's motion.

He also directly spoke on camera to a journalist outside the courthouse, and appeared to be commenting on the case on Twitter under the handle @BLMBro, the prosecutors added. Shkreli previously used Twitter under his own name, but the social media platform banned him from doing so in January after he harassed a female journalist.

In seeking a broad gag order on Monday, prosecutors said Shkreli's repeated public statements about his case could taint the jury and make a fair trial impossible.

Shkreli's attorney, Benjamin Brafman, had opposed the prosecutors' request for a broad gag order, saying in a court filing that his client had a First Amendment right to speak freely.

Brafman also disclosed in court Wednesday that he had discussed a possible guilty plea with prosecutors before the trial, though he said Shkreli himself rejected the possibility, according to Marzulli.

Prosecutors have claimed that Shkreli ran a scheme in which he lied to lure investors in the MSMB funds, concealed huge trading losses from them and repaid them with millions of dollars stolen from Retrophin, where he was CEO.

Shkreli was ousted from Retrophin in 2014. He has denied the charges against him. (Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)

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