For a long time, Martin Shkreli approached reality the way a drunk alcoholic approaches, well, reality: his arrest, his court appearances, his house detention, to him it all seemed like a surreal, vast, elaborate joke. However, as time went by, as the judge found Shkreli personally responsible for $10.4 million in losses, and the prospect of spending years in a higher-security prison, it finally dawned on the scrawny 34-year-old that his near-to-mid term future is suddenly disastrously bleak.
As a result, the remorseful former hedge fund manager and pharmacist wrote a letter to the judge who will sentence him next Friday, begging for forgiveness and promising that he’ll be "more careful, open and honest" if she doesn’t impose a long prison term, admitting the he "was a fool" and "should have known better."
"I assure you that any mercy shown at sentencing will be met with a strict adherence to this oath and I hope to make your honor proud of me in the years ahead," Shkreli said in a letter he wrote on Feb. 26 from the Brooklyn detention center where he’s been holed up since September.
It wasn't always like that: Shkreli, who in the summer of 2015 was dubbed "the most-hated-man in America" after raising the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000%, mocked and blasted members of a congressional panel who had quizzed him about the price hike, calling them "imbeciles" on Twitter.
Things got weirder last September when Shkreli issued a bounty for a sample of Hillary Clinton’s hair, an act which prompted Judge Kiyo Matsumoto to revoke his house arrest and send him to prison.
And now, with Shkreli's sentencing just days away on March 9, the infamous hedge funder and former biopharma exec is suddenly begging if not for forgiveness then understanding. The reason? As we reported two days ago, Judge Matsumoto found that Shkreli caused investors to lose more than $10.4 million, rejecting his claim he made them money.
Shkreli's blockbuster legal team led by Ben Brafman, said that decision means Shkreli could face a sentence of more than 30 years in prison, arguing it’s a term he doesn’t deserve. "He is a caring intellectual" who’s helped find cures for diseases that afflict kids, Brafman said of Shkreli. But he’s is plagued by "personal demons hell bent on self-destruction," the lawyer added according to Bloomberg.
It gets worse: according to prison consultant Joel Sickler while Shkreli would ordinarily be eligible to serve his time in a minimum-security federal camp that resembles "an austere college campus," officials will instead place him in a higher-security facility because of his threat against Clinton.
That will mean Shkreli will be housed in a crowded prison filled with felons who’ve been convicted of violent crimes ranging from racketeers, drug cartel leaders and sex offenders, all posing a threat to what Sickler called Shkreli’s "fragile mental state."
Which again brings us to the letter, where in Shkreli’s first direct communication with the judge, he called his five-week trial a "frightening wake-up call" and blamed his actions on insecurity, saying, "I wanted to be more than I was. I exaggerated."
He admitted that he’d "dodged" questions posed by his investors or gave answers "that were only correct if put in a certain assumed context." He described himself as a "irreverent and free-wheeling individual" whose comments and actions didn’t reflect his true nature.
"I regret where my temper can take me when I get angry or feel betrayed," he pleaded.
His verbal contrition may not be enough.
Prosecutors are scheduled to make their sentencing recommendation on March 5.
Shkreli's full letter is below:
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I hope my trial gave the Court sufficient insight into the case, and also to me as a person. I hope Your Honor will treat me as an individual. I acknowledge and respect the Jury's verdict, but the verdict is not who I am.
Despite the Jury's verdict, I maintain that I never intended to actually harm anyone. I am not trying to be defiant or obstinate. I accept the fact that I made serious mistakes, but I still believe that I am a good person with much potential.
I have watched this process unfold, from indictment to verdict and although Mr. Brafman and his colleagues are peerless defenders, they cannot fully reproduce my own perspective, only I can try. I understand it, I am very far from blameless. I caused this entire mess to happen. I lost the trust of my investors who now have questioned my motives and integrity. This is a painful realization that I will never forget. I had pride in the final results of MSMB, but after hearing the investor testimony, the concept of "all's well that ends well" is clearly a poor attempt to excuse my many preventable mistakes.
Investors deserve truth. Investors deserve transparency. Any loss of trust in the sacred relationship between investor and manager is the manager's fault and could have been avoided. At times, I dodged answering questions at other times I provided answers that were only correct if put in a certain assumed context. These choices are now seen as attempts by me to deceive and manipulate, and it is my fault.
The truth is somewhere in between. I wanted to be more than I was. I exaggerated if I felt I had any basis to make the claim. I am now, however, a more self confident and secure person. The demons that haunted me — the root cause of my insecurity in my life — no longer all exist. I have learned a very painful lesson. Never again will I prevaricate or omit or mislead-intentionally or not. There are ways to communicate which eliminate the possibility of doubt and alternative interpretations of fact. I take responsibility for the fact that I used to behave and communicate in this way. It was wrong. I was a fool. I should have known better. Watching my trial was a very scary experience. For the first time in my fife I saw me from other people's perspective and realized that most people don't share my perspective.
It breaks my heart that good and honest people were dragged into this mess because of me. Some of my investors who took a chance on me; my colleagues, many of whom now regret having partnered with me; my family and friends, whose worry is more painful to me than anything else; patients and charitable organizations, whose fives and activities have been upended in some cases; and the huge loss of economic resources and productivity that this case represents. It wouldn't have happened if I was more careful, more honest, more reasonable and far wiser.
Today I am the majority owner of businesses worth many millions of dollars, but more importantly, I employ over a hundred people globally, in high-paying jobs who have critical roles and responsibilities. They are counting on me, and I let them down. I have learned a harsh lesson. The trial and six months in a maximum security prison has been a frightening wake-up call. I now understand how I need to change.
I feel I should try to explain my personality. I am an irreverent and free-wheeling individual, who has never been shy about speaking my mind. I am an individual who prizes equal rights, scholastic achievement and individuality. Please understand that when I get into a public war of words with someone, my comments do not always reflect my true nature. Sadly, when I get dragged into mud fight, I often dive in, head first. I pray Your Honor doesn't hold this behavior against me or mistake it for my regular approach to life. At times, I have been characterized totally incorrectly at trial by some who are biased, as litigation opponents for example do not make fair critics. I regret where my temper can take me when I get angry or feel betrayed. I have worked on this bad habit for some months now and will try to find equanimity in the future.
Prison has been both the most frightening experience in my life but also an opportunity for me to see a side of the world seldom seen or discussed. I have tried my best to make a positive impact on many of the people I encounter here. If I have something to teach my fellow inmates, I implored them to listen and learn. I have comforted the forlorn and forgotten men facing long sentences, many are severely depressed, and sadly, suicidal. I try my best to set a good example for these individuals too, knowing my fame and achievements were something they might know of, and I try my best to explain that in order to have a chance to succeed, they had to make a serious commitment to lifelong education and move far away from poisonous surroundings and attitudes that lead to a temptation to cut corners and commit crimes.
My own advice has not gone unheeded by me. I have also been lucky in my life to be surrounded by some wonderful people who have been better to me than I deserve. I owe them a life built on honesty, integrity and achievement that advances humanity. I assure you that any mercy shown at sentencing will be met with a strict adherence to this oath and I hope to make Your Honor proud of me in the years ahead. I promise to be more careful, open and honest in my business dealings so that I never again have to hear people who once had faith in me and trusted me testify or complain that I misled them or let them down terribly. Just as important, however, is my pledge to Your Honor that if you find it appropriate to impose a sentence that does not include an extended period of incarceration, I will do my absolute best to use my skills and whatever talents I have been blessed with for the betterment of humanity. I honestly believe that I can contribute and really make a difference if Your Honor gives me a chance.