Martin Shkreli’s bid for early release from prison rejected

Tina Davis and Erik Larson

Martin Shkreli’s request to get an early release from prison was rejected by a judge, who wasn’t convinced by the 37-year-old’s argument that he could use his pharmaceutical expertise to help cure coronavirus.

“The court does not find that releasing Mr. Shkreli will protect the public, even though Mr. Shkreli seeks to leverage his experience with pharmaceuticals to help develop a cure for Covid-19 that he would purportedly provide at no cost,” District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto wrote in an order issued Saturday. “In any event, Mr. Shkreli’s self-described altruistic intentions do not provide a legal basis to grant his motion.”

In this Aug. 4, 2017 file photo, former pharmaceutical company CEO, Martin Shkreli, arrives at federal court in New York.

The judge also rejected the idea that Shkreli, who is scheduled to be released in October 2023, was susceptible to the virus because he suffers from asthma and allergies. The “Pharma Bro” was sentenced in March 2018 to seven years after being convicted of securities fraud for lying to investors in his hedge funds and manipulating shares in Retrophin Inc., a biotech company he founded.

“Not surprised but very disappointed,” Shkreli’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said in an email response to queries. “Notorious defendant never catches a break even when well deserved and in the best interest of the country.”

Some federal prisoners have gotten permission to serve out sentences in home confinement because of the pandemic. Last week, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, 71, was released from a low-security prison in Pennsylvania and allowed to go to his home in northern Virginia to serve the remainder of his 7 1/2year sentence. Since late March, 2,785 of about 168,000 federal inmates have been released to home confinement, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.

(Adds lawyer’s response in fourth paragraph.)

2020 Bloomberg L.P.