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Jury begins deliberating fate of ex-pharma exec Shkreli at fraud trial

By Andrew V. Pestano
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Jury begins deliberating fate of ex-pharma exec Shkreli at fraud trial
Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli arrives at the United States Federal courthouse Monday, on day one of deliberations in his fraud trial on Monday in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

July 31 (UPI) -- A jury on Monday began to deliberate in the federal securities fraud trial of Martin Shkreli, the former head of Turing Pharmaceuticals who gained notoriety two years ago for hiking the cost of an AIDS medication by 5,000 percent.

Shkreli was arrested in December 2015 on charges of securities fraud and wire fraud. Prosecutors allege he ran a "Ponzi scheme" between 2009 and 2014 in which he bilked investors out of a total of $11 million.

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Prosecutors said Shkreli lied to investors as he committed the financial crimes.

"When you lie to people knowingly and intentionally to get their money, it's a crime," federal prosecutor Jacquelyn Kasulis said in closing arguments Friday. "And that is exactly what Martin Shkreli did. He knowingly lied over and over again to his investors."

RELATED 'Shocked' NYC judge orders ex-pharma exec Shkreli to 'stop talking'

Prosecutors allege Shkreli illegally took stock from his biotechnology firm, Retrophin Inc., and used it to pay off debts from a failed hedge fund -- which is illegal. The Retrophin board of directors later sued Shkreli and he was ousted from the company for which he served as CEO.

Shkreli is accused of fraudulently reclassifying a $900,000 equity investment as a loan from his defunct hedge fund, MSMB Capital Management, after it lost millions -- and made Retrophin pick up the tab.

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Defense attorneys argued that Shkreli's investors were repaid, meaning he's already made reparations.

RELATED Shkreli's attorney opposes gag order request by prosecutors

In August 2015, Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired Daraprim -- a drug often used to treat toxoplasmosis in people with compromised immune systems, like AIDS patients -- and immediately increased the price of the drug by 5,000 percent. The hike raised the average treatment costs from about $1,130 to $63,000 per year.

Although toxoplamosis is not considered dangerous in people who are generally healthy, for people who are pregnant or have a weakened immune system the effects of the infection can be severe. Daraprim is also used to treat malaria.

If convicted, Shkreli faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

RELATED Judge awards separate fraud trial for pharma figure Shkreli

In April, a judge ruled that Shkreli could be tried separately from his former attorney, who has also been charged in the case.

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