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US warns Shkreli may face more charges in securities case

Disgraced drug company founder Martin Shkreli isn't rushing to have his next showdown with the government.

[BROOKLYN] Disgraced drug company founder Martin Shkreli isn't rushing to have his next showdown with the government. The 33-year-old former executive asked a judge to wait before setting a trial date for his securities fraud case because he could soon face more charges.

The founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, called the "most hated man in America" by some in the media for dramatically increasing the price of a life-saving drug, is charged with defrauding investors in hedge funds and Retrophin Inc, another pharmaceutical company he ran.

Mr Shkreli additionally may face charges related to the distribution of stock in Retrophin and a 2013 private placement deal which helped provide financing for the company, Assistant US Attorney Winston Paes said Tuesday at a hearing in Brooklyn federal court. A more expansive indictment might be filed next month, Mr Paes said.

Defense lawyers told the judge they wanted to wait to see any new allegations and review potentially millions of pages of documents before considering a trial date. Mr Shkreli is next scheduled to appear in court on June 6.

"My impression was the defense was raring to go," US District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto told defense lawyers, referring to earlier statements in court filings that Mr Shkreli was eager to challenge the government's case.

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"But I understand you want to wait. I don't want to push you" if "you're not ready."

Mr Shkreli, founder and former CEO of Retrophin, is accused of illegally using as much as US$11 million in the drug company's assets to pay off investors who lost money in his hedge funds.

He also lied to investors about the amount of money he was managing, his past failings as a fund manager, and whether one of the funds employed an auditor, prosecutors said. A former corporate lawyer, Evan Greebel, is accused of helping Mr Shkreli carry out part of the scheme and cover his tracks.

Marking the third time Mr Shkreli has appeared before a Brooklyn federal judge since his arrest Dec 17, the youthful and typically outspoken former executive arrived to court dressed soberly in a gray blazer and wearing glasses.

"I think that today was a good day for Martin Shkreli," defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman told reporters outside the courthouse after the brief proceeding, while his client stood silently beside him. The judge recognized the "complexity" of handling the case, he said.

Mr Shkreli may seek to try his case separately from Mr Greebel's, Mr Brafman said. In a letter filed Monday, Mr Brafman said that his client may pursue a "reliance of counsel" defense, meaning he might try and blame Mr Greebel for his actions.

"We intend to proceed to trial," Mr Brafman said on Tuesday.

Mr Shkreli has suggested in interviews that the case against him was unfairly driven by public criticism over a price increase he implemented for anti-parasitic drug Daraprim.

While he was CEO of Turing, the company acquired the rights to the drug, used to treat an infection which can be deadly to babies and AIDS patients, and raised the price to US$750 from US$13.50 per pill. The move, which drew fury from health-care advocates, patients and lawmakers, isn't related to the securities allegations.

"My lawyers think that the timing is really coincidental," Mr Shkreli told Milo Yiannopoulos, tech editor for the conservative media outlet Breitbart, in a podcast last month.

Frequently clad in a hoodie and quick to quote rap lyrics, Mr Shkreli has burnished his infamy by defending his decision to raise prices and savaging critics in Twitter posts, at one point calling federal lawmakers who were investigating him "imbeciles."

In other instances, he said it was his duty to make money for shareholders and that the revenue was needed for researching new medicines.

"Capitalism can seem ugly if you don't understand it and you're not prepared for it," he told his roughly 115,000 Twitter followers April 12, 2016. "If you need comfort and care, I suggest adopting a puppy." The case is US v. Shkreli, 15-cr-00637, US District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).


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