Shkreli Lawyer Says He Alternates Wanting Punch, Hug Client

(Bloomberg) -- Convicted pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli doesn’t deserve 15 years behind bars as prosecutors recommend despite their efforts to paint a “dark picture” of him, his defense lawyer told a judge at his sentencing hearing.

“There are times when I want to hug him and hold him and comfort him and there are times I want to punch him in the face,” attorney Ben Brafman told U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto in Brooklyn, New York, in explaining how Shkreli’s antics that aren’t related to the case shouldn’t count against him. “He’s a good person, judge. He’s not a perfect person.”

The 34-year-old was convicted in August of lying to investors in his hedge funds and manipulating shares in Retrophin Inc., a biotech company he founded. He’s been held in a Brooklyn jail since September after violating his bail conditions when he offered a bounty to anyone who would take a sample of Hillary Clinton’s hair.

Shkreli exhibits “awkward inappropriate social behavior at times that I don’t think he can completely control,” Brafman said, adding that his client has depression and anxiety. He also read from a letter from Shkreli’s younger brother, who wrote “I think Martin may be difficult to understand simply because there really is no one else like him.”

At the start of Friday’s hearing, Matsumoto noted that she has reviewed 55 letters of support provided by the defense team. The prosecution will speak next as the sides weigh what the appropriate sentencing range is, then debate how long Shkreli will actually serve.

“I’ve got my begging voice on,” Brafman said to the judge. Shkreli “should not be sentenced solely for being Martin Shkreli. I understand how frustrating that may be for you, your honor.”

On Monday, Matsumoto ordered Shkreli to hand over almost $7.4 million to the U.S. and gave him 10 days to tell the government where the assets to cover the forfeiture are.

(An earlier version corrected the fourth paragraph to say the letter Brafman read is from a younger brother.)

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