Martin Shkreli was once a millionaire pharmaceutical executive derisively known as "Pharma Bro." Now he's a prison inmate affectionately known as "Asshole."
The disgraced pharmaceutical company executive still helps run Phoenixus AG, and even worked around a Twitter ban with an anonymous account, using a contraband smart phone from inside Fort Dix, the low-security federal correctional institution in New Jersey, reported the Wall Street Journal.
The 35-year-old Shkreli called his handpicked chief executive, who was on a safari vacation, to fire him from the company formerly known as Turing Pharmaceuticals, a source familiar with the conversation told the newspaper.
Shkreli and Turing became instantly notorious in 2015, after the company raised the cost of an HIV drug to $750 per pill from $13.50, and the so-called "Pharma Bro" was eventually sentenced in March 2018 to seven years in prison on a conspiracy and securities-fraud conviction.
A year into his sentence, Shkreli reportedly has paid off other inmates' poker debts and made some prison friends, such as “Krispy” and “D-Block,” and he's affectionately known as "Asshole," according to sources familiar with his life in prison.
They protect him from other inmates and cautioned him against playing guitar in a prison band because the other members had been convicted of child molestation.
Shkreli somehow managed to get a smartphone he uses to help run the company he founded, and he also set up a since-deleted Twitter account without using his real name and solicits help from Facebook followers translating Meek Mill rap lyrics from Spanish.
"I am trying to impress my loco hombres," Shkreli posted in January. "Need to be accepted by the Latin American criminal community here."
He also posts on a personal blog, where he compared himself to Elon Musk and offered unsolicited advice to Trump associate Roger Stone.
"A supra-judiciary entity will intervene in your case," Shkreli wrote. "P.S. Never, ever, ever snitch.”
Shkreli insists he'll leave federal prison wealthier than before he arrived, saying Phoenixus could be worth $3.7 billion when his sentence runs out in 2023, according to a person familiar with his thinking.
"Born on negative 10th base and worked to get where I am," Shkreli tweeted in August, before his account was deleted. "Try it sometime, lazy liberal arts grads."
But the company's minority shareholders would rather cut back Shkreli's involvement so the company can be sold.
“This investment is an absolute disaster,” said Sabine Gritti, an Austrian interior designer who holds a million-dollar stake in Phoenixus. “We can’t get information, and anything they do send out, we don’t know if it is trustworthy.”
Shkreli's involvement with Phoenixus could land him in additional legal trouble, the Journal reported.
The FBI has interviewed associates about Shkreli's role in the company, according to sources who have spoken to investigators, and the prison inmate handbook expressly prohibits "conducting business, in any way."
The prison warden denied a request by the Journal's reporter to visit Shkreli due to “safety and security concerns.”