A Few Updates …

Today I have some new/additional information on a few of my recent posts that I thought I would share with you.

Some People Never Learn …

Remember my June 29 post about Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical magnate who increased the prices of certain drugs by as much as 5,000%, showed no remorse, and made outrageous statements while wearing a perpetual smirk.  Well, in August he was convicted on three counts of securities fraud, and is currently out on bail while awaiting sentencing.  Or rather, he was out on bail until yesterday, when U.S District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto revoked his bail.

Shkreli.jpgSeems that Shkreli just has to be in the limelight and isn’t too bright about how he gets there.  On his Facebook page, he offered his Facebook followers $5,000 to grab a strand of Hillary Clinton’s hair during her book tour.  Now why … ??? His attorneys produced an apology, and pleaded with the judge, but to no avail.  “The fact that he continues to remain unaware of the inappropriateness of his actions or words demonstrates to me that he may be creating ongoing risk to the community,” said Judge Matsumoto. “This is a solicitation of assault. That is not protected by the First Amendment.”

Shkreli was immediately taken into custody and will be sent to a maximum-security prison until his sentencing hearing in January. He could face up to 20 years in prison.


Something Rotten at Equifax …

Last Friday I wrote about the major security breach at Equifax that affected 143 million in the U.S. alone, some 98% of the adult population.  I mentioned that I had concerns because, while Equifax discovered the breach on July 29th, the public was not informed until September 7th, fully 41 days later.  What were they doing?  Damage control? Meanwhile, at least three senior Equifax executives had divested themselves of shares after learning of the breach … shares worth $1.8 million.  My thoughts then were that there was more to this than meets the eye.

Well, apparently I am not alone in my suspicions, but they are shared by the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee.  The leaders of the committee, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Ron Wyden of Oregon have sent a letter to Equifax seeking additional information into the hacking, and also information about the three officers who sold stock.  Those three officers are Chief Financial Officer John W. Gamble Jr., Rodolfo O. Ploder and Joseph M. Loughran III.  The letter asked that Equifax respond by Sept. 28th.

Additionally, a group of thirty-six senators signed a letter asking the U.S. Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to look into the executive stock sales.  And Equifax’ chief executive, Richard Smith, is expected to testify on Oct. 3 before a House of Representatives panel. Expect more updates.


The Hate is Spreading …

The case of the little 8-year-old boy who was nearly lynched by a group of teens in Claremont, New Hampshire is finally being taken seriously, it seems. On Tuesday, Governor Christopher Sununu instructed the state attorney general to assist Claremont police in the investigation. “It is my expectation that local and state authorities will investigate appropriately and I’ve asked for regular updates on how things are proceeding, Hatred and bigotry will not be tolerated in New Hampshire.”

Although it is still not being widely reported, the New York Times, Newsweek and International Business (IB) Times have reported on it.  And some members of the community came together on Tuesday in a peaceful gathering to protest against racism.  Meanwhile,  Jasper Hill Farm in rural Vermont reported a swastika and other racist graffiti on a barn.

graffiti.jpgThe hate is spreading, folks, and I don’t foresee an end anytime soon.

sad-turltle

 

 

 

Not Guilty By Reason Of … “He Was Born This Way”

His name is Martin Shkreli and he is a crook.  You may best remember him as the man who, in 2015 stirred public outrage when his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, jacked the price of a drug used to treat a life-threatening infection by more than 5,000 percent. Turing raised the price on Daraprim, a 62-year-old drug whose patent expired decades ago, from $13.50 to $750 per pill. The drug is the only approved treatment for a rare parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis that mainly strikes pregnant women, cancer patients and AIDS patients. Shortly thereafter, Shkreli said the company would cut the drug’s price, but he failed to do so. That, however, is not why he is on trial this month in federal court.

Federal prosecutors alleged that for five years Shkreli lied to investors in two hedge funds and the biopharmaceutical company Retrophin, all of which he founded. After losing money on stock bets he made through one hedge fund, Shkreli allegedly started another and used his new investors’ money to pay off those who had lost money on the first fund. Then, as pressure was building, Shkreli started Retrophin, which was publicly traded, and used cash and stock from that company to settle with other disgruntled investors, prosecutors contend. Shkreli repeatedly lied to investors, shareholders and the board of Retrophin to cover up his losses.

House Oversight Hearing On Prescription Drug Price Increases

Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, smiles while listening to opening statements at a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on prescription drug prices in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Shkreli, who is no longer with Turing and faces federal fraud charges unrelated to the drugmaker, declined to make any comments to the committee. “On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment,” Shkreli said. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

According to G. Karthik Srinivasan, an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District Court in Brooklyn, Shkreli told investors that he had a successful track record as a hedge-fund manager and sent them false performance reports and backdated documents to cover up his losses, telling potential investors that his hedge funds had millions more than they did. In the end, Shkreli defrauded investors and Retrophin shareholders out of more than $10 million.

There is also a civil suit against him by the company he founded, Retrophin.  In 2014, the company not only sent him packing, but they filed a federal lawsuit requesting $65 million in damages. So, what exactly had he done? According to the company, Shkreli paid investors with stock in his hedge fund, but failed to correctly disclose distribution plans and stock grants. In addition, the company leaked the fact he was being investigated for harassing a female employee, after he allegedly wrote a letter to her stating, “I hope to see you and your four children homeless and will do whatever I can to assure this.” Nice guy, huh? And after he was ousted, he tweeted that the directors who terminated him were “insane”. (Is this beginning to sound like anybody else we know of?)

In his early years, he joined an online dating service, and described himself as: [A] native New Yorker seeks girlfriend. Intelligent, handsome, and all sorts of other good qualities. I am endlessly entertaining, providing comedic relief and artistic thought in one convenient package. What a catch!”

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Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC, reacts during a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on prescription drug prices in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Shkreli, who is no longer with Turing and faces federal fraud charges unrelated to the drugmaker, declined to make any comments to the committee. “On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment,” Shkreli said. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In 2015, with the 2016 election campaigns in full swing, not a single one of the candidates wanted anything to do with Shkreli.  He donated $2,700 to Bernie Sanders’ campaign, which Bernie rejected … and in a classy way, sending the money to an HIV clinic.  Even Donald Trump kept his distance, calling him a ‘disgrace’ and a ‘spoiled brat’.  Classic case of the pot calling the kettle black?  On learning of Bernie’s rejection, Shkreli is said to have flown into a rage, unleashing a series of tweets, including, “SO ANGRY AT @BernieSanders I COULD PUNCH A WALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 — Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) October 18, 2015 (Sound like anybody else we know of?)

Shkreli was arrested in December 2015. Shkreli was released after putting up a $5 million bond. The bond was secured by assets in Shkreli’s E*Trade account.

shkreli-arrest.jpgBut, to get to the point of my post, the thing that dumped this story onto my radar last night, his attorney, Benjamin Brafman, says he should not be found guilty. This is the 2nd attorney Shkreli has had, as his first, Harland Dorrinson, increased his fees by 5,000% from $1,200 per hour to $60,000 per hour!!!  Poetic justice???  His current attorney, Brafman, claims a number of reasons that ol’ Shkreli should not be found guilty:

  • “The people who invested . . . are high rollers,” Brafman said. “All of these people are worth tens of millions of dollars. They were betting on Martin Shkreli’s genius.”

  • “Is he strange? Yes. Will you find him weird? Yes. But [his investors] used his genius and made millions. . . . Despite his flaws and dysfunctional personality, Martin Shkreli is brilliant beyond words. As Lady Gaga would say: He was born this way.”

  • “You can’t convict him for the people skills he lacked. If you want to call him names, call him names — just don’t call him guilty.”

The above remarks were made during opening statements.  Jury selection had been difficult, with over 250 potential jurors interviewed.  One prospective juror said Wednesday: “The only thing I would be impartial about is which prison he goes to.” Another said he didn’t like Shkreli and didn’t understand “why someone would take a medication that people need and jack up the price.” The potential juror’s voice was shaking as he turned to Shkreli and raised his fist. “I would just go over there . . . is he just stupid or crazy?” the potential juror said. Needless to say, these people didn’t make the final cut. Brafman says he is confident that “savvy New Yorkers” would be able to use their “street smarts” to see that Shkreli is not guilty.

As for Shkreli, he says he thinks he will do well in prison and is only upset that he will have to be without 24/7 internet service.  And regarding the civil suit, “The $65 million Retrophin wants from me would not dent me. I feel great. I’m licking my chops over the suits I’m going to file against them.”  And one more time, I ask you … does this remind you of anybody else?  Hint:  initials DDT?

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