Angelo Mozlio and Jon Corzine walk the earth as free men, and yet:
Notorious “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, after making a sob-filled plea for leniency, was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison for federal fraud charges related to hedge funds and a drug company that he once ran.
So what’s the difference between famous fraudsters who get off scott-free and those who get a book thrown in their
exquisitely punchable faces? Well, just ask Martin Shkreli himself…
“There one person to blame for me being here today is me,” a choked-up Shkreli told a judge before she imposed the prison term. “Not the government. There is no conspiracy to take down Martin Shkreli.”
“I took down Martin Shkreli.”
“This is my fault. I am no victim here,” Shkreli said, before breaking down into tears as he promised his lawyer not to let him down in his efforts to contribute to society.
Martin Shkreli is – for the sake of brevity – an incandescently flaming asshole. His behavior both professionally and personally has been bereft of humility, grace or even basic human decency. At every opportunity, Shkreli revealed himself to be a not-fully socialized almost-human who retreated reflexively into an emotional armor of bullying prickishness that made him utterly unworthy of sympathy. And we will admit to having had personal interactions with Martin that left us feeling angry and sad, even a little shocked that he was so consistently shitty and awful in every phase of his life. But from months and months of watching him in the media or dealing with him in real life, we’ve never once felt even a scintilla of empathy for the guy.
By all accounts, Shkreli deserves to do time. What he did was illegal, venal and dumb, worthy of imprisonment and scorn. But we can’t help notice that seven years is a pretty heavy sentence for a guy that basically executed a relatively small fraud without a ton of forethought other than the impetus of ego and greed. He got in over his head, did super dumb shit, and some people got hurt. Shkreli wasn’t being tried for price-gouging sick people on drugs or being a generally irredeemable garbage person, he was being tried for fraud and – forgive us this moment of clarity – we’ve seen waaaay worse in that department. But putting someone in prison for a big chunk of his most vital years for essentially having a deeply personality is harsh.
What we’re seeing is a man getting sentenced to long stay in Federal Prison for being a supreme asshole who also did a dumb fraud. So while we might enjoy the schadenfreude of watching Martin Shkreli get hauled off for a long stay at Club Fed, the asshole living inside of all of us should take a moment and wonder if this is a precedent we’re really comfortable with on a cosmic level.