‘Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli Denied Prison Release to Work on COVID-19 Treatment

Shkreli's lawyers claimed his severe allergies put him at risk from the virus

NBC Bay Area

A federal judge denied a motion for early release from so-called "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli, who sought to get out of prison so he could work on a treatment for COVID-19.

Shkreli, convicted in 2017 of securities fraud, argued through his lawyers that because of the coronavirus pandemic he faced "possible, even likely, infection and potential death in prison due to his underlying severe allergies.”

Currently serving a seven-year sentence at a federal facility in Allenwood, PA, Shkreli sought "permission to work from home ... to perform research on a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment,” his motion added.

But Judge Kiyo Matsumoto, in a ruling handed down Saturday, suggested Shkreli might be safer in prison.

"FCI Allenwood Low has zero reported cases of COVID-19 among inmates and staff as of the date of this order. Defendant requests to be released into, among other places, an apartment in New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic," the judge wrote.

Martin Shrkeli, the smirking “Pharma Bro” vilified for jacking up the price of a lifesaving drug, was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison for defrauding investors in two failed hedge funds. Meg Tirrell reports.

The judge also cast significant doubt on Shkreli's assertion that he could come up with a treatment for coronavirus if released -- a treatment he offered to make freely available.

"The Probation Department asserts that Mr. Shkreli’s claim that he can develop a cure for COVID-19 that has 'so far eluded the best medical and scientific minds in the world working around the clock' is the type of 'delusional self-aggrandizing behavior' that precipitated the offenses for which he was properly convicted," Matsumoto wrote.

He is one of a number of prominent felons to seek early release from prison on the grounds their health would put them at greater risk for catching coronavirus. Those motions have met with mixed success.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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