Martin Shkreli's lawyer says former drug company chairman tried to 'seduce' the 'pharma bro' with salacious emails

  • Steve Richardson wrote Shkreli about touching "your soft skin," according to an email.
  • "If you got that email from Mr. Richardson, you'd be creeped out about it," Shkreli's lawyer Ben Brafman said.
  • Richardson testified he did not have a sexual relationship with Shkreli, but that he did have a heart-to-heart chat with him in his bedroom.
Martin Shkreli arrives to federal court in Brooklyn on July 21st, 2017.
Dan Mangan | CNBC
Martin Shkreli arrives to federal court in Brooklyn on July 21st, 2017.

Martin Shkreli's lawyer suggested Thursday that his "pharma bro" client had a sexual relationship with the gay former chairman of the board of Retrophin, the drug company Shkreli had founded.

"What didn't Steve Richardson do for the two years he was on the board except try to seduce Martin Shkreli?" defense attorney Benjamin Brafman said in his summation at Shkreli's securities fraud trial in Brooklyn, New York, federal court.

Richardson, 63, is a former top human resources executive at American Express who served as chairman of Retrophin when the company ousted Shkreli in 2014 over a series of concerns about him.

Richardson, who is gay, has testified he confronted Shkreli at one point about making homoerotic comments around him.

Richardson said he believed Shkreli was doing so in the mistaken belief that Richardson would want to hear such remarks.

Brafman told jurors, "I don't care whether you're gay, or not gay, or straight or bisexual."

"It's not our business whether Steve Richardson's gay," Brafman said.

But Brafman said Richardson had "lied" when he claimed that he once sent Shkreli, now 34, an email that said "only if I can touch your soft skin" solely because Shkreli had had a "very nasty-looking rash."

"If you got that email from Mr. Richardson, you'd be creeped out about it," Brafman said.

In another email from Richardson, he wrote Shkreli, "I'm drunk. Where are you?"

Brafman asked, "Who sends an email to someone like that that you're not having a sexual relationship with?"

Brafman said that Richardson was actually telling Shkreli, "I'm horny," in that email.

The lawyer also noted that Richardson left Retrophin's board after a report by an independent commissioner found that he had "a personal relationship" with Shkreli.

"You did not get the truth from Mr. Richardson," said Brafman.

Richardson had been an investor in Shkreli's hedge fund and then in Retrophin before joining the board of the then-young company.

In testimony earlier this month, Richardson, who has a longtime male partner, said Shkreli had made him "uncomfortable" with comments that Shkreli was interested in sleeping with a male employee or a restaurant waiter.

"He was starting to say certain things of a gay nature that worried me a bit," said Richardson. "I thought maybe he was saying things to me because he thought I would want to hear them."

Richardson testified that one night, while having Shkreli over for cocktails in his apartment in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, he conducted an unusual confrontation with Shkreli.

I said, 'Come with me' and walked him into the bedroom, and I sat him on the bed," Richardson testified.

"I said, 'You're here, you are sitting in a gay man's bedroom ... do you have any physical feeling to me?'"

"And he said, 'No, I like you a lot.'"

He then told Shkreli, "I want you to stop," according to Richardson's testimony.

When a prosecutor asked Richardson if he had any interest in a physical relationship with Shkreli, Richardson said, "No."

Brafman on Thursday scoffed at Richardson's account about taking Shkreli into his bedroom only to underscore the idea that he didn't want to have sex with him.

"What are we doing?" Brafman asked. "He's old enough to be his father. He's chairman of the board!"

Shkreli did not testify at his trial. If he had done so, prosecutors could have asked him if he did have a sexual relationship with Richardson, and why he had allegedly made suggestive remarks to the other man.

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