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'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli heading to jail

Judge grants U.S. government demand that convicted Shkreli's bail be revoked

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Former drug company executive Martin Shkreli exits U.S. District Court after being convicted of securities fraud in New York City in August 2017. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters )

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A judge ruled that the provocative online antics of former pharmaceuticals company CEO Martin Shkreli are bad enough to put him behind bars. Shkreli is going to jail in New York while he awaits sentencing for a securities fraud conviction.

At a Wednesday hearing, U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto sided with the government demand to jail Shkreli following his recent offer to pay a $5,000 bounty for a Hillary Clinton hair with the follicle while she's on a book tour.

Shkreli's defence argued in court papers filed Tuesday that his recent offer falls under the category of "political satire or strained humour" and was merely a tasteless joke comparable to some of President Donald Trump's derisive comments, not a threat worthy of putting him behind bars.

"Indeed, in the current political climate, dissent has unfortunately often taken the form of political satire, hyperbole, parody or sarcasm," wrote the lawyer, Ben Brafman. "There is a difference, however, between comments that are intended to threaten or harass and comments — albeit offensive ones — that are intended as political satire or strained humour."

The attorney was responding to government filings last week that argued Shkreli's behaviour was threatening enough to jail the so-called Pharma Bro while he awaits sentencing for his securities fraud conviction. Prosecutors said the posting prompted the Secret Service to use more resources because it ran the risk that many of Shkreli's social media followers would think he was serious.

Shkreli, who is best known for hiking up the price of a life-saving drug and for trolling his critics on social media, was found guilty last month on charges, unrelated to the price-fixing scandal, that he cheated investors in two failed hedge funds he ran. The defence had argued that investors got their original investments back and even made hefty profits.

Shkreli has said he feels "exonerated" despite his conviction and thinks there's a "50-50 chance" he won't face any punishment. He chatted with fans on his YouTube channel and sparred with a reporter after last month's verdict.

"In sum and substance," he said, "I feel exonerated."

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