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‘Pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli jailed for seven years

Martin Shkreli has been sentenced to seven years in prison for defrauding investors in two botched hedge funds.

The former drug company executive – dubbed “Pharma Bro” and vilified for increasing the prices of a life-saving drug – was also fined $75,000 (£54,000) by a court in New York.

Renowned for his cocky persona, Shkreli cried as he apologised to investors and told the judge he had made mistakes.

He said: “I want the people who came here today to support me to understand one thing, the only person to blame for me being here today is me. I took down Martin Shkreli.

“I am terribly sorry I lost your trust. You deserve far better.”

In August, a jury had found him guilty of sending investors fake account statements and concealing huge losses.

Prosecutors had described the 34-year-old as a master manipulator who duped investors, and were calling for a 15-year sentence.

They said he deserved a stiffer sentence not because he is “the most hated man in America”, but because he is a criminal convicted of serious fraud.

Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, prepares to testify before a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on "Developments in the Prescription Drug Market Oversight" on Capitol Hill in Washington
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Prosecutors said Shkreli had ‘no respect whatsoever’ for the law

In 2015, Shkreli hit the headlines after defending his decision to increase the price of Daraprim, a cheap drug for treating HIV, by 5,000%.

When questioned about the price hike by Congress a few months later, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination – only to tweet after the hearing that the politicians were “imbeciles”.

Shkreli was later thrown off Twitter for harassing a female journalist, and caused controversy by making speeches with the conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

Throughout the case, Shkreli had insisted that he was being persecuted by prosecutors because he was outspoken – and after being convicted, he predicted that he was unlikely to receive a jail sentence.

But last autumn, his bail was revoked by the judge after he offered his followers a $5,000 (£3,600) reward to anyone who could get a lock of Hillary Clinton’s hair.

At one point, Shkreli’s lawyer told the judge: “There are times when I want to hug him and hold him and comfort him and there are times when I want to punch him in the face.”

In his defence, letters were given to the court which highlighted Shkreli’s capacity for generosity – such as the time he has spent teaching inmates chess and mathematics and the counselling he gave to a rape victim.

One supporter said Shkreli demonstrated kindness by adopting a cat called Trashy, while another insisted his social media contributions were valuable and akin to “performance art”.

Earlier this week, the judge ruled Shkreli will have to forfeit more than $7.3m (£5.2m), including his one-of-a-kind Wu Tang Clan album which he bought for $2m(£1.4m).

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