Pharma bro Martin Shkreli will be tried separately from his former business lawyer on securities fraud charges, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
Brooklyn U.S. District Court Judge Kiyo Matsumoto said that Shkreli's constitutional right to a fair trial would be at "serious risk" if he was tried side by side with co-defendant Evan Greebel, since Greebel's criminal defense attorney had threatened to act as "a second prosecutor" against Shkreli.
Shkreli, 34, will go on trial first, beginning June 26.
Greebel will be tried at a later date to be determined.
Matsumoto's decision came less than two weeks after a hearing where lawyers for both Shkreli and Greebel requested their cases be tried separately.
At that hearing, Greebel's lawyer Reed Brodsky warned Matsumoto that in addition to proclaiming Greebel's innocence, he would attack Shkreli as "a liar and a deceiver" who was guilty not only of the charged conduct, but also of other alleged crimes.
"We will be duty-bound to destroy Mr. Shkreli's credibility," Brodsky said at the time. "We are going to be an echo chamber with the government in terms of Mr. Shkreli's lies."
In turn, Shkreli's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, has indicated that he will use a so-called reliance on counsel defense, which would effectively argue that Shkreli's alleged conduct was done in the belief that it was legal because his attorney, Greebel, had said so.
Prosecutors accuse Shkreli, with Greebel's assistance, of looting a pharmaceuticals firm he had founded, Retrophin, out of millions of dollars to pay off investors he was accused of defrauding at hedge funds he had operated. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.