Every now and again someone does something that serves as a perfect example for everyone around them of what NOT to do! Case in point: Martin “Pharma Bro” Shkreli, the controversial former pharmaceutical CEO, who achieved notoriety for raising the cost of Daraprim, a life-saving drug, from US$13.5 to US$750 per pill.
In 2015, Shkreli was indicted and arrested by the FBI, who charged him with securities fraud. These federal charges were filed after his tenure at MSMB Capital Management and Retrophin were both investigated. It was determined that Shkreli was running a Ponzi-like scheme. According to a press release from the United States Department of Justice, “As alleged, Martin Shkreli engaged in multiple schemes to ensnare investors through a web of lies and deceit.”
However, the reason we bring up Shkreli is because he has made waves recently as a result of going against his attorney’s advice, and discussing his case online and with the media. Since posting bail, the controversial former CEO has made numerous comments on social media and other online forums which may serve to complicate his defense in the federal criminal court.
On Twitter, Shkreli called members of Congress “imbeciles” because they required that he tell them the reason why his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, raised the price of Daraprim. In another instance he used twitter to target journalist Lauren Duca, harassing her with fake pictures of herself and Shkreli cuddling, and name calling. As a result his Twitter account was suspended, and he was later permanently banned from the app. On Facebook he has made comments about being unjustly imprisoned.
At his pretrial hearing, when Shkreli’s criminal defense attorney was asked about his client’s ‘loose cannon’ approach to discussing his case. Benjamin Brafman described him as someone who “travels to the beat of a very unique drummer.” Those who were present for the pretrial in federal court said that Brafman sounded very exasperated and frustrated with his client’s decision to disregard advice to keep silent.
As defense attorneys, we completely understand Brafman’s frustration.
Discussing a case, even with close friends and loved ones, can have disastrous results! Talking to police without your attorney present, explaining aspects of your case on social media, or even just trying to set the record straight with loved ones can have unintended consequences for you. This in turn can make your defense harder for your attorney.
An example of how this could play out is exactly what’s happening at Shkreli’s trial right now. The court is having a very hard time selecting a jury, due to all of the negative press that has surrounded Shkreli thus far. One juror told the judge that the defendant was “the face of corporate greed,” while another called him “the most hated man in America.” One potential juror made hand motions implying that he would like to wring Shkreli’s neck, while another one told the federal judge that, upon seeing Shkreli, she instantly thought of him as a snake.
The challenges faced by Shkreli’s defense attorney is very real, and one that we can relate to. Nothing is more frustrating that working hard to protect a client’s rights and construct a complex defense strategy, only to have all of your hard work undone by one Facebook comment, or one discussion with a family member. Loose lips do indeed sink ships!
If you have been accused of a crime in Michigan, be certain to keep your lips sealed! Don’t talk to the police, or to your cellmate in jail. Don’t talk to your friends or family members, even if they’re on your side and are supportive of you. And don’t, under any circumstances, discuss anything related to your case online! Silence really is golden! So observe the golden rule, do yourself a huge favor, and don’t breathe a word to anyone but your attorney. Trust us, your silence can be the difference between freedom and prison time!