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Martin Shkreli's new jailhouse home is 'not where you want to be': Defense lawyer

  • The Brooklyn, New York, federal detention center is "just a place to warehouse human beings," says attorney Arthur Aidala.
  • There are not rehabilitation or educational programs at the jail as exist at federal prisons.
  • Shkreli is expected to be locked up there for four months.

Martin Shkreli's new home in a Brooklyn, New York, federal jail is definitely not the kind of place "where you want to be," a top New York City criminal defense attorney said Thursday.

Metropolitan Detention Center Brooklyn is a grim, smelly setting where Shkreli and other inmates are denied the types of services that can make time spent in long-term federal prisons more bearable, while being fed fattening food.

"It's not a rehabilitative facility. There's no schooling there, there's no classes there," said the lawyer, Arthur Aidala. "The worst part is there's no real outdoors space."

"It's just a place to warehouse human beings."

Shkreli, 34, a Manhattan resident, was thrown into the MDC on Wednesday after a Brooklyn federal court judge revoked his $5 million release bond.

The MDC Brooklyn detention center.
Source: Federal Bureau of Prisons
The MDC Brooklyn detention center.

Judge Kiyo Matsumoto ruled that Shkreli represented a danger to the community because of a bizarre $5,000 bounty he offered to Facebook followers who grabbed samples of Hillary Clinton's hair for him. Shkreli and his lawyer Benjamin Brafman claimed the offer was "satire."

Matsumoto also was concerned about posts Shkreli had made directed at journalist Lauren Duca, who has a long-standing feud with him, and who Shkreli said he planned to "f---" once his trial ended.

Duca on Wednesday tweeted her opinion of Shkreli's incarceration.

Brafman, who declined to comment Thursday, noted during a court hearing Wednesday that the MDC is a "maximum security" facility, as opposed to the minimum security prison Shkreli is likely to do time in if he receives a prison sentence.

The MDC also will deny Shkreli access to the internet — the digital playground where he has gained widespread notoriety for trolling critics, Clinton and journalists covering his criminal case.

The convicted fraudster, who spent his first night in the MDC on Wednesday, has been assigned the number 87850-053 by the Federal Bureau of Prisons as he awaits sentencing on Jan. 16.

Martin Shkreli on lunch break from his court trial in Brooklyn, New York on June 29th, 2017.
Justin Solomon | CNBC
Martin Shkreli on lunch break from his court trial in Brooklyn, New York on June 29th, 2017.

The jail is basically "a holding facility" for people awaiting trial on federal criminal charges, Aidala said.

The clientele "really varies. You have a lot of people involved with drugs, who got arrested for drugs. You have a sprinkling of organized crime people" of different ethnicity, Aidala said. "You have a handful of white-collar guys."

Shkreli, who previously ran two pharmaceutical companies and several hedge funds, is one of those white-collar guys. A jury convicted him in August of three securities fraud charges.

Shkreli had expected to remain free for months, or even longer, pending his sentencing and his planned appeal. Brafman has said that a sentence that does not require prison time is possible in the case.

Gerald Lefcourt, a leading criminal defense lawyer, told CNBC on Wednesday that Shkreli could actually spend more time locked up due to his bond revocation than he would otherwise be for a prison sentence given the time it takes for an appeal of a federal conviction to be resolved.

Aidala said that even if Shkreli does get sentenced to prison, it will be to a facility that is more pleasant than the MDC.

"Everyone says the federal facilities are better than state prisons," Aidala said. "Sure, that's true — when you get sentenced."

But before then Shkreli has to bide his time for four months in the MDC, where Aidala himself has spent hours visiting clients.

"The Brooklyn House of Detention" — where people are jailed while awaiting state charges are kept — "is like a palace compared to the MDC," Aidala said.

NBC News noted that a 2016 report by the National Association of Women Judges said conditions in the female section of the MDC were "unconscionable," and that federal prosecutors in May charged three guards with sexually abusing female prisoners.

"There's not the most pleasant odor flowing around the whole building," Aidala said. "You're basically inside, surrounded with the florescent lights."

Meals at the facility are "heavy on the carbs," the lawyer said. When inmates come down for visiting hours "they beg their families to get food from the vending machines," Aidala said.

With little official recreation, and with access to fresh air limited to a rooftop area that inmates have some access to, "there's a lot of card playing," Aidala said.

He said that Shkreli faces much less risk of violence than he would if he was being held at Rikers Island, the sprawling New York City jail complex that holds people charged with state crimes.

The MDC is "more of ... an unpleasant place than it is a dangerous place," he said.

"It's the dehumanization" that is particularly bad, Aidala said. "You're being told where to go, when to do, how you can do anything, from brushing your teeth to sleeping."

"No independence and freedom," the lawyer said.

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