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Shkreli Says He Won't Testify As Prosecutors Wrap Up Their Case

Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli, who is on trial for eight counts of securities and wire fraud, just did something unprecedented: He listened to the advice of his attorney. Shkreli told Judge Kiyo Matsumoto that he won’t be testifying in his own defense after the prosecution finishes making its case later this week. Shkreli’s decision to abstain from testifying means that questions about his public persona will be largely excluded from the trial, according to the New York Times and Bloomberg.

He ‘is not going to testify’ said Benjamin Brafman, one of Shkreli’s lawyers.


The judge then asked Mr. Shkreli, who stood up, four questions about whether he had consulted with his lawyers and understood his rights, and whether his decision was his alone.


‘Yes.’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Correct,’ Mr. Shkreli said.”

Shkreli’s disclosure came as federal prosecutors for the Eastern District of New York presented what’s likely their final witness, an FBI agent who helped build the case against Shkreli. According to Bloomberg, Shkreli’s decision not to testify could be a sign that his lawyers believe they have poked enough holes in the government’s case against their client.

It could also indicate that the defense is worried about Shkreli’s “long track record of inflammatory remarks,” according to James Goodnow, an attorney at Fennemore Craig, who spoke with Bloomberg.

According to the NYT, it’s “rare and risky for a defendant to take the stand in his own defense because it can allow in evidence that would otherwise be kept out. It also gives prosecutors a clear shot at the defendant in cross examination.”

Judge Matsumoto said she would tell jurors not to infer anything from Mr. Shkreli’s decision to withhold his testimony; she also said she would instruct jurors not to discuss his decision. Any potential jurors who said they knew about the defendant, or followed him on social media, were excused during voir dire, according to the NYT. Shkreli is charged with eight counts of wire and securities fraud stemming from his time running two hedge funds and a pharmaceutical company. Shkreli’s lawyer Brafman has tried to paint his client as a borderline-autistic business genius who devoted long hours to teaching himself chemistry, but was bullied by investors and members of the Retrophin board, a strategy the NYT referred to as “the born this way” defense.  

Shkreli is accused of exaggerating the performance of two of his hedge funds and operating a “Ponzi-like” scheme to mislead investors about their returns. He’s also accused of improperly taking $11 million from Retrophin to pay back his investors by hiring them as consultants at the company after some threatened to sue, according to Bloomberg.  

Shkreli’s decision not to testify is surprising considering how outspoken he has been about his innocence, even trying to persuade prosecutors to drop the charges before he was arrested. Matsumoto issued a partial gag order against Shkreli at the prosecution’s behest, banning him from discussing the case while at or near the courthouse after he hurled insults at the prosecution in front of a gaggle of court reporters. Still, Shkreli has continued to hold livestreams with his supporters every night after court proceedings have finished.

Prosecutors are expected to wrap up their case on Tuesday. Since Shkreli has decided not to testify, Brafman has said “‘there may be no defense case,’” which means the trial, which was expected to continue through the first two weeks of August, could finish up early.