Biotech and Pharma

Psychiatric exam sought for jailed 'pharma bro' Martin Shkreli

Key Points
  • A psychiatric examination was sought for jailed 'pharma bro' Martin Shkreli.
  • It was not publicly disclosed who requested that examination.
  • The request came six days after Shkreli's bond was revoked for, among other things, offering a $5,000 bounty for samples of Hillary Clinton's hair.
Martin Shkreli walking to court, June 29, 2017.
Justin Solomon | CNBC

Court records indicate that a psychiatric examination was sought for "pharma bro" Martin Shkreli after he was jailed last week for offering a bizarre cash bounty for some of Hillary Clinton's hair.

The motion for Shkreli's psychiatric examination was filed in recent days in Brooklyn, New York, federal court, records for his criminal case there indicate.

Although the motion is not visible to public inspection, other records that are public refer to it.

Martin Shkreli ordered to jail

But because the motion is not public, it is not known who requested the exam for the eccentric, disgraced pharmaceutical executive, or why it was sought.

However, an online court database reveals that Judge Kiyo Matsumoto issued an order on the motion on Tuesday. Records do not indicate what Matsumoto ordered.

In opening arguments at Shkreli's trial on fraud charges this past summer, which Matsumoto presided over, his own lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, told jurors, "Maybe he's just nuts, but that doesn't make him guilty."

"Will you find him strange? Yes. Will you find him weird? Yes!" Brafman also said at the time about his client, who has a history of erratic behavior.

During Shkreli's trial, a former board member of one of Shkreli's drug companies testified that Shkreli had confided that he had suffered from depression, and took prescription medication for that condition.

The board member, Steven Richardson, also testified that he was not aware, as Shkreli's other lawyer Marc Agnifilo had suggested in questioning, that Shkreli on occasion "couldn't bring himself to leave his house."

The psychiatric exam motion came six days after an angry Matsumoto revoked Shkreli's $5 million release bond because of a $5,000 bounty he offered to Facebook followers who grabbed samples of hair from former Secretary of State Clinton and gave them to him.

The judge agreed with prosecutors that Shkreli, who claimed the offer was a satirical joke gone bad, was a threat to the public because of both that bounty and because of other online posts he wrote disclosing his intent to "f---" two women after his trial ended.

Since then, Shkreli, 34, has been in jail at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, awaiting sentencing in January for his conviction on securities fraud charges.

His lawyer Brafman on Monday filed a motion asking that Matsumoto release restrictions on an E-Trade brokerage account that was securing Shkreli's $5 million release bond. Matsumoto has yet to rule on that motion.

CNBC has reached out to Brafman for comment on the psychiatric exam motion.

John Marzulli, spokesman for the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, which prosecuted Shkreli, declined to comment Wednesday.

During Shkreli's trial it was revealed that a former employee of his hedge funds once had referred to him as "mentally unstable" in an online chat she had with an executive at the fund.

The ex-employee, Caroline Stewart, testified that she had believed Shkreli was mentally unstable because "in my opinion it's crazy to lie so much, particularly about things that are easily uncovered."

Stewart also testified that Shkreli was "deeply depressed" in February 2011 after his hedge fund effectively "imploded" and was left owing $10 million to Merrill Lynch from a failed short sale of stock.

Other testimony and evidence at Shkreli's trial showed him repeatedly lying to hedge fund investors about his performance managing their money, and then scrambling to pay them back for their lost money with cash and stock from a drug company he founded, Retrophin.

Shkreli was convicted in early August of three securities fraud counts and acquitted of five other charges.

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