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Prosecutor: Shkreli may be slapped with new charges

Shkreli back in court
Next Shkreli court appearance June 6
Shkreli thanks supporters as he heads into court

There could be mo' charges coming for this pharm bro'.

Pharma bad boy Martin Shkreli soon could be hit with additional criminal charges, federal prosecutors and defense lawyers revealed during a hearing Tuesday morning.

The superseding indictment that prosecutors are seriously considering filing would echo the original pending charges, which accuse Shkreli and his co-defendant, attorney Evan Greebel of looting publicly traded pharmaceuticals company Retrophin, the lead prosecutor in the case disclosed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

Shkreli founded and was CEO of Retrophin before being ousted by the company's board in 2014 over a dispute that is related to allegations in the pending criminal case. The potential new criminal charges could expose Shrekli and Retrophin's former lawyer Greebel to extra prison time if they are convicted.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Paes said the new charges, which would be filed within 30 days, involved alleged securities fraud and a crime related to a February 2013 "PIPE" transaction, or private investment in public equity, in which private investors buy a company's shares outside of public stock exchanges.

A Securities and Exchange Commission complaint filed against Shkreli last year accused him "enriching himself at Retrophin's expense" by using funds raised by Retrophin in a PIPE transaction in February 2013 to make a personal investment in that PIPE "and thereby acquire 180,000 shares worth over $5.3 million today."

The PIPE deal occurred when Retrophin had less than $20,000 in cash in its bank accounts, and "was in dire need of funds" that it sought by making a private offering of shares and warrants, the SEC said.

Martin Shkreli takes on Congress

In apparent reaction to the possible new charges, Shkreli tweeted Tuesday afternoon:

His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said outside of court, "We don't believe the [superseding] indictment will change anything."

He added that he doesn't believe it would make the case more difficult for the 32-year-old Shkreli, who remains free on a $5 million bond.

Brafman also said that the defense may need to explore the possibility of requesting that the judge split the case so that Shkreli and Greebel can tried separately.

When a reporter asked Brafman whether the government has offered a plea deal, Shkreli's attorney did not answer the question. He instead said, "We plead[ed]not guilty and we intend to proceed to trial."

Shkreli said nothing to reporters outside of court.

But after the hearing, Shkreli tweeted a response proclaiming his innocence when someone else tweeted that he "will likely get away with the securities charges, " on the securities fraud charges he faces. Brafman has previously said he wants Shkreli to refrain from speaking to members of the press.

The pinned December tweet on Shkreli's account asserts he is confident he will "prevail" in the case, and that "the allegations against [him] are baseless and without merit."

The next hearing in the case is currently scheduled for June 6. But Judge Kiyo Matsumoto said she might have to arraign Shkrekli and Greebel on the new charges before that if a superseding indictment is lodged against them.

Yesterday's hearing was originally supposed to result in a trial date being set for the duo.

But even before the potential new charges were mentioned, defense lawyers said that the massive amount of evidence that has already been turned over to them, several million pages of documents, is taking a lot of time to wade through, and that they wouldn't be ready for trial until sometime next year. Any additional charges, they said, could delay the trial, or trials, further.

Prosecutors said they have turned over about 70 gigabytes of documents to defense lawyers so far, and that they expect to disclose several more gigabytes soon. They disputed the notion that the amount of evidence was unusual for a white-collar criminal case, and said that any new charges would relate to evidence that already has been turned over to defense lawyers..

Before the hearing started, a group of school children who were touring the court came into the courtroom, where another judge spoke to them about the law, and introduced them to Brafman, as Shkreli sat at a table nearby.

The children, who were seated in the jury box, were told by the other judge that Brafman was "one of the most well-known defense attorneys in the courthouse,:

"Anybody here want to be a defense lawyer?" Brafman asked the children. After just one boy raised his hand, Brafman asked him why he wanted that job.

"I'd like to defend people because sometimes they actually are innocent," the boy said.

"Yes!" a grinning Brafman replied as Shkreli laughed. "Sometimes clients are innocent, sometimes we don't know."

"If I'm still alive when you graduate, send me a letter," Brafman told the boy.

Brafman ended his remarks by telling the kids, "Nice to meet you. Stay in school and stay out of trouble!" as he wagged his finger at them.

Shkreli gained notoriety last year after raising the price of a drug used to treat toxoplasmosis by more than 5,500 percent as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company that he founded after Retrophin's board ousted him. The price of Daraprim jumped from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill.

Although the price hike drew widespread outrage, it had nothing to do with the criminal charges that were subsequently lodged against him.

In February, Shkreli refused to testify before a congressional committee investigating drug price increases, citing his his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.