Con man or brilliant? Clashing portraits of Martin Shkreli offered as trial begins

At start of securities fraud experiment, US prosecutor accused ex-pharmaceutical CEO of building a bogus hedge fund empire by telling lies on top of lies on top of lies

Martin Shkreli is either a con man who scammed hedge fund investors of millions or a nerdy genius who stimulated them even richer.

The conflicting portraits were offered Wednesday at opening statements of Shkrelis protections impostor test, a example colored by the ex-pharmaceutical CEOs antics on social media which, despite the recommend of his solicitors to lay low, have never subsided.

Is he strange? Yes, defense attorney Benjamin Brafman told the jurors in federal courtroom in Brooklyn. Will you find him strange? Yes. But Martin Shkreli, despite all his flaws and dysfunctional personality, is brilliant beyond words.

In his opening, aide US attorney Karthik Srinivasan accused Shkreli of constructing a bogus hedge fund empire by telling lies on top of lies on top of lies. Though he drew himself as a Wall Street wizard, in reality, he was just a con man, the public prosecutor replied.

Shkreli, sometimes dubbed Pharma Bro, often slumped in his chair and seemed bored during jury selection but listened intently and took notes during the governments opening. As his solicitor communicated, he beamed on occasion.

Shkreli, 34, became a pariah in 2015 after anti-retroviral drugs company he founded, Turing Medicines, invested $55 m for the US privileges to sell a life-saving drug called Daraprim and promptly raised the cost from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

The spotlight intensified afterwards that year with his arrest on accusations unrelated to Daraprim focusing on a pair of failed hedge funds he founded. After he lost investors money through bad business, he secretly looted Retrophin, another pharmaceutical corporation where he was CEO, for $10 m to pay back his disgruntled patrons, Srinivasan supposed.

Rather than owning up to his lies and acknowledging his investments were a los, the defendant doubled down by engaging in an even bigger hoax, he told.

The alleged victims in the case were high-rolling investors who were drew attention to Shkrelis quirky personality and terminated up getting their money back and more because Retrophin eventually became a successful startup worth$ 1bn, Brafman announced.

Board members of his corporations who constructed fun of Shkreli behind his back questioning his sexuality, wondering if he was autistic and calling him Rain Man after the movie character misunderstood his aptitudes, said here defense lawyer, who referred to his client as a nerd, odd duck and a mad scientist.

He added: As Lady Gaga articulated, He was Born This Way.

Jury selection, which started Monday, dragged out until late Wednesday afternoon as the judge sought to find jurors who could dismiss the negative press over the price-gouging scandal. Also hard to ignore was Skhrelis footprint on social media where he boasted about buying a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album for$ 2m and got kicked off Twitter for trolling a female freelance reporter in creepy-crawly routes.

Questioned by the judge during sidebars, prospective jurors described Shkreli as the face of corporate avarice and a snake.

In this particular case, another dismissed juror told Wednesday, the only thing Id be impartial about is what prison he goes to.

Shkreli is free on$ 5m bond. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

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