Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli Can’t Leave Prison to Cure Coronavirus, Judge Rules

Martin ShkreliErik Pendzich/Rex Shutterstock via ZUMA

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Martin Shkreli will not be let out of prison to research a coronavirus treatment.

US District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto issued a nine-page ruling Saturday denying Shkreli’s request, noting that probation officials viewed the notion that Shkreli might help solve the pandemic as the kind “delusional self-aggrandizing behavior” that landed him behind bars in the first place, according to the Associated Press.

Shkreli came to infamy in 2015 after buying the rights to a drug used to treat complications from AIDS and malaria and dramatically increasing the price—by more than 5,000 percent. That earned him the nickname “Pharma Bro” and, in the words of multiple media outlets, turned him into the “most hated man in America.” In 2017, he was convicted of three counts of securities fraud and sentenced to seven years in prison.

But maybe you can’t knock the man for trying. Recently, other high-profile convicts, including former Trump aides Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, won early release from prison because of the threat the virus poses in prisons—though Cohen’s release has been delayed for unspecified reasons. Last month, former Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti was released from a New York jail, where he was awaiting sentencing in an extortion case. 

Shkreli has been locked up in a minimum security federal prison in Pennsylvania where there have been no reported cases of the coronavirus. Still, detention facilities across the globe have become hotbeds for infection, as my colleagues Nathalie Baptiste and Samantha Micheals have reported.

States like California and New York have released low-level offenders who are highly vulnerable to COVID-19, which has drawn rebukes from some tough-on-crime critics. But Shkreli’s case proves that getting out of prison—even during a pandemic—isn’t all that easy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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