Martin Shkreli will have his federal securities fraud trial separated from that of his former counsel and co-defendant Evan Greebel, US District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto wrote in an order filed Wednesday.
Shkreli and Greebel were jointly indicted by the FBI in December of 2015 on allegations that they ran an elaborate Ponzi-like scheme to defraud investors of hedge funds that Shkreli formerly managed and siphoned $11 million in assets from Shkreli’s former biopharmaceutical company, Retrophin.
Since then, both Shkreli and Greebel have pled ‘not guilty’ and asked the court to have their trials separated. They have made it clear that they intend to point fingers at each other in the cases.
Shkreli’s defense will essentially argue that he committed no crime because he lacked requisite intent and relied on his trusted counsel, Greebel.
Greebel plans to accuse Shkreli of being a “serial fraudster” and argue that Greebel was simply yet another victim in Shkreli’s scheming. Greebel’s counsel has even claimed to have secret evidence that will “destroy Mr. Shkreli’s credibility.”
As such, both argued that a joint trial would make it impossible for each of them to lay blame at each other’s feet while getting a fair judgement—it would create a situation in which if one of them were deemed innocent then the other must be guilty, or guilt of one would spillover to the other, they argued.
In the ruling, Matsumoto disagreed with their arguments; she said it would be possible to find both innocent. Nevertheless, she granted their request to separate the trials.
In her ruling, Matsumoto explained that because Greebel intends to try to prove Shkreli’s fraudulent ways so vigorously, it would amount to a double trial for Shkreli. The defense “presents a realistic scenario that Shkreli will be prosecuted, not only by the government, but also by Greebel, his co-defendant,” Matsumoto wrote. And as such, “a joint trial would place on Shkreli an unfair and heavy burden in defending himself against both the government and Greebel,” she concluded.
Moreover, a joint trial would be a giant pain, she noted. “Both defense counsel have indicated that they expect to raise frequent objections during the trial, both to the government’s and each co-defendant’s evidence, leading to a litany of side bar debates about various legal issues,” she wrote. This would unnecessarily drag things out and possibly confuse the jury, she noted in her explanation.
Shkreli’s trial will move forward, and Greebel will be given fresh trial dates.