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Shkreli Lawyer: There are witnesses who'd clear the pharma bro

Martin Shkreli former CEO Turing Pharmaceuticals
Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

A lawyer for pharma bro Martin Shkreli suggested Friday after a hearing at Brooklyn federal court that there are a number of witnesses who could testify that the accused fraudster is innocent.

"There a number of witness who exculpate Martin. A lot of them do talk to us, some of them don't," Shkreli's lawyer Marc Agnifilo said. "If these witnesses are going to come through I think we're going to have the makings of a very good defense."

Shkreli's lawyers previously suggested that his defense would be based on the claim that he had been relying on the advice of his lawyer and current co-defendant, Evan Greebel, for the conduct which is the basis of the indictment against them both.

When asked what his defense would be other than that claim, he said, "I don't think Martin broke the law. It's the oldest defense in the book."

"I think he's innocent. I think he did not break the law, and I don't think anybody can prove that he did."

Shkreli, 33, is accused by prosecutors of looting the pharma company Retrophin that he was then heading of $11 million to pay off investors he was suspected of previously defrauding in a hedge fund he ran.

Retrophin's board ousted Shkreli in 2014, and later sued him for $65 million in connection with his alleged plundering of the company.

Greebel's lawyer, Reed Brodsky, said during the hearing they were contemplating making a request to sever the trial and have each defendant tried separately. This marked the first time Greebel's lawyers raised the possibility they may request a separate trial.

Shkreli's lawyers had suggested the severance in previous hearings. As of Friday they hadn't yet reached a decision, but Agnifilo did note that, "If we can sever it, I think it's a cleaner trial for both of us so we'll see."

Greebel's lawyers also remarked that the government had not disclosed enough potentially exculpatory material for their client. They acknowledged, however, that they were having a hard time searching through the more than 3 million documents already provided to them by prosecutors.

They suggested that they would argue Greebel was misled by Shkreli, and thus innocent and not a conspirator. "We want evidence that Shkreli lied or deceived Mr. Greebel," Brodsky said during the two-hour hearing.

During the proceeding, a prosecutor brought up the moment Shkreli was arrested on December 17, 2015, and handcuffed to an office railing. At that moment, Shkreli grinned broadly at an FBI agent sitting at the prosecution's table, who then smiled back wryly, seemingly acknowledging the moment.

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 conspiracy and securities fraud charges that were subsequently lodged against him.

After the hearing, Shkreli was asked about the status of an auction in which he was offering people the chance to hit him in the face.

He quickly said "I think we're done, thanks a lot" and began walking away.