Federal prosecutors late Monday asked a judge to slap a gag order on “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli , three days after he blasted them as the “junior varsity” during a surprise courthouse rant to reporters covering his trial.
Those prosecutors said Shkreli’s off-the-cuff remarks, made despite the desperate wishes of his lawyers that he not do so, “risks tainting the jury,” according to their motion filed in Brooklyn, NY, federal court.
Prosecutors, who believe that Shkreli has resumed posting on Twitter under a pseudonym despite being barred from the social media platform earlier this year for harassing a female reporter, also wants him barred by the judge from tweeting further about the case.
If they don’t get the gag order granted, prosecutors want a semi-sequestration of jurors to protect them from hearing or reading Shkreli’s comments during his trial on charges of securities fraud.
And they are asking Judge Kiyo Matsumoto to bar his lawyers, and prosecutors themselves from making comments to the media about the case.
Their filing in cites a video featuring a CNBC reporter asking Shkreli’s lawyer Benjamin Brafman how he felt about his client’s scathing remarks after court recessed Friday.
Shkreli, who was walking alongside Brafman said, “He’ll do whatever he wants.”
When the reporter asked Shkreli, “You can do whatever you want, Martin?” Shkreli replied, “Yes,” the prosecutors’ motion notes.
Also attached to their motion are several news articles about Shkreli’s comments and suspected tweets under the Twitter handle @BLMBro.
The unusual request, made on the eve of the Fourth of July, came after Shkreli, 34, stunned reporters, his lawyers, and many other people by effectively holding a press conference in Brooklyn federal court during a lunch recess at his trial last Friday.
Shkreli criticized the people prosecuting him as the “junior varsity,” claimed he never considered taking a plea deal and said people “blame me for everything.”
Shkreli also griped about news headlines regarding his case, and teed off on a young woman who had testified he for almost a year dragged out redeeming her $435,000 investment in his hedge fund, saying she wasn’t a “victim.”
And Shrkreli said that several documents discussed at the trial, which raised questions about his honesty with investors, were prepared by other people.
“Do I want to exonerate myself?” he asked a small group of journalists when asked if he had desired to have his day in court.
In their filing Monday, night, prosecutors wrote: “The government respectfully moves this Court for an order limit extrajudicial statements by the defendant Martin Shkreli and counsel for all parties during the pendency of this trial.”
“Since the empanelment of the jury., Shkreli has engaged with the press — in apparent contravention of the instructions of his lawyers — in the courthouse itself, directly outside the courthouse and on digital media in a manner that risks tainting the jury,” the motion says.
“In order to protect the public’s interest in a fair trial in which the jury will reach a verdict based solely on the evidence presented in the courtroom, the defendant should be restrained from further public comment during the pendency of the trial. In addition, or in the alternative, the government seeks semi-sequestration of the jury.”
Prosecutors also wrote: “Unfortunately, despite the assurances of defense counsel prior to trial—as well as efforts by defense counsel to control Shkreli—once the jury was selected and empaneled, Shkreli embarked on a campaign of disruption by commenting on trial evidence and witnesses to the press and on social media, and by making a spectacle of himself and the trial directly on the courthouse grounds.”
“During the lunch break on June 30, 2017, the defendant paid a highly-
publicized visit to reporters and members of the public in the overflow viewing room, which is located on the same floor of the courthouse in which the trial is taking place. Among other things, the defendant repeatedly commented on evidence the jury had heard just the day before and the credibility of testifying witnesses.”
The prosecutors also noted that “in addition to his comments on the evidence and witnesses, Shkreli also made inappropriate personal attacks on current and former prosecutors in this case.”
Last Friday, Shkreli only stopped talking and left when his high-powered lawyer Brafman peered in the room and asked, “Martin, can I talk to you for a minute?”
Later, Brafman said would prefer Shkreli not conduct any more impromptu press conferences “because sometimes he doesn’t have a filter.”
“I’m hoping he doesn’t do it ever again,” Brafman told reporters.
Shkreli is charged with securities fraud in connection with his alleged looting millions of dollars from Retrophin , the publicly traded drug company he founded. Prosecutors claim he used the money to repay to investors whom allegedly defrauded at two hedge funds he had run, in addition to paying off personal debts.
Shkreli walked into a courtroom that is on the same floor as the one where his trial is being conducted, and saw several reporters. The room has an video and audio feed of the trial for spectators who don’t have seats in the main courtroom.
“Welcome,” one reporter said when she saw Shkreli.
The former pharmaceuticals executive then began talking freely for about five minutes.
Shkreli first mentioned that a friend of his had been in the the trial’s so-called “overflow” room earlier in the week, and tried to sit on the judge’s bench.
When a reporter asked Shkreli what he thought of the trial’s opening arguments on Wednesday, he shot back, “How do you think they went?”
Shkreli then suggested that his lawyer Brafman, who gave an impassioned opening, had outclassed the assistant United States Attorney who gave the opening for the prosecution, and called prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York the “junior varsity.”
“They blame me for everything,” Shkreli said, apparently referring to prosecutors and his other critics.
“Blame me for capitalism,” Shkreli said. “Blame me for EpiPen.”
Several prospective jurors earlier this week were excused from consideration because they incorrectly believed Shkreli had raised the price of the anti-allergy device EpiPen.
In reality, Shkreli drew widespread public scorn in 2015 for hiking the price of an anti-parasite drug named Daraprim by more than 5,000 percent while serving as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals.