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Judge revokes Martin Shkreli's bail after Facebook post offered bounty for Hillary Clinton's hair

CNBC logo CNBC 9/13/2017 Dan Mangan
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A federal judge revoked the $5 million bond of convicted fraudster Martin Shkreli and ordered him jailed after prosecutors argued the notorious "pharma bro" was a danger to the public because of his offer on Facebook of cash for samples of Hillary Clinton's hair.

Judge Kiyo Matsumoto's ruling came after a hearing in Brooklyn federal court.

And it came a day after Shkreli apologized for the Facebook post about Clinton and her hair, saying he used "poor judgment" with "my awkward attempt at humor."

Shkreli, 34, last week encouraged followers of his Facebook page to grab samples of Clinton's hair from her head and said he would pay them $5,000 per sample.

"I wanted to personally apologize to this Court and my lawyers for the aggravation that my recent postings have caused," Shkreli wrote in the letter Tuesday.

"I understand now that some may have read my comments about Mrs. Clinton as threatening, when that was never my intention when making those comments."

"I used poor judgment but never intended to cause alarm or promote any act of violence whatsoever," he wrote, adding that he had quickly amended his post to make clear he had just been joking.

The post sparked an inquiry from the U.S. Secret Service. And prosecutors then asked Matsumoto to jail Shkreli, saying in a court filing that "his recent public conduct demonstrates that he cannot meet his post-trial burden to show, by clear and convincing evidence, that he does not pose a danger to the community."

Prosecutors pointed out that Shkreli's latest stunt came just weeks after being convicted of three securities fraud-related counts in Brooklyn federal court. The judge on Wednesday set Shkreli's sentencing date for January 16.

Shkreli's lawyer Benjamin Brafman, in his own letter to Matsumoto on Tuesday, had written, "While we do not condone Mr. Shkreli's comment, his constitutionally-protected political hyperbole does not rise to the level of making a 'danger to the community' when he is not and has never been considered to be a danger."

Brafman said that Shkreli should not be jailed because he "never intended any harm or violence."

The lawyer disputed prosecutors' contention that comments Shkreli made online about Clinton and a journalist, Lauren Duca, constituted an escalating pattern of threats,

Brafman suggested that Shkreli, who claims to be a supporter of President Donald Trump, was engaging in "political hyperbole" or "satire" in his comments about both women.

Brafman cited the fact that comedian Kathy Griffin was not prosecuted after she posted online a photograph of herself holding what appeared to be the bloody, severed head of Trump.

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"Another example of political hyperbole is when President Donald Trump, as a candidate, caused a controversy last year by implying that 'Second Amendment people' could prevent former Secretary Clinton from abolishing their right to bear arms."

Michael Bachner, a leading New York criminal defense lawyer, earlier Wednesday told CNBC he did not believe Shkreli should have his bail revoked.

"If he had made the comments about another author who wasn't Clinton, I don't think there would be a bail revocation hearing going on here," said Bachner.

Another top Big Apple lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, earlier said that while Shkreli probably should be allowed to remain free on bail, "I think the judge is probably at wit's end with respect to... his conduct."

Matsumoto, during Shkreli's trial this summer, imposed a virtual gag order on him that barred him from talking about the case in public around the courthouse after he gave an impromptu press conference to reporters and called prosecutors in the case the "junior varsity."

Asked if he had ever seen a defendant in a criminal case who had been convicted made such a public spectacle of himself as Shkreli has done since early August, Lefcourt said, "No."

"He is just incapable of controlling himself," Lefcourt said.

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