Even Martin Shkreli doesn’t want anything to do with Martin Shkreli.
A man with the same name as the notorious “Pharma bro” Shkreli was arraigned in the same courthouse, in the same courtroom, with the exact same judge on different criminal charges as those facing Shkreli on Friday.
Reporters covering the fifth day of jury deliberations for the ongoing securities fraud trial of the ex-pharmaceuticals firm CEO Shkreli packed into the courtroom in Brooklyn, New York, federal court to watch the deja vu scene play out.
Adding to the oddness was the fact that the high-powered lawyer Benjamin Brafman, who represents 34-year-old Martin Shkreli in the securities fraud case, was representing one of eight co-defendants of the other, 59-year-old Martin Shkreli, during Friday’s proceeding.
Both Shkrelis are of Albanian descent but are not related to one another.
During the arraignment Friday proceeding, Brafman’s client Shkreli was not in the the courtroom when his namesake was arraigned on money-laundering charges related to alleged drug trafficking by a gang that also is accused of trafficking in weapons from the nation of Kosovo.
“There’s another Martin Shkreli in this case. How weird is that?” quipped one of the case’s other lawyers to a journalist after the arraignment.
The other Shkreli grinned broadly over at reporters after Judge Kiyo Matsumoto called his name out in court. Matsumoto also smiled.
The other Shkreli also accepted a warm handshake from Pashko Shkreli, the father of the younger Martin Shkreli, who happened to be sitting in the courtroom gallery directly in front of him.
“I don’t need that kind of fame,” said the other Shkreli, who smiled wryly when a reporter asked what he thought of his “newfound fame” after his lawyer entered a not-guilty plea.
The criminal complaint against the other Shkreli pointedly says, in a terse footnote, that, “This is not the same Martin Shkreli who is currently on trial in the Eastern District of New York.”
The other Shkreli, who lives in Westchester County, New York, didn’t respond when the reporter asked if he would start an account on Twitter, the social-media messaging site that the pharmaceutical executive Shkreli had been repeatedly banned from. That Shkreli was tweeting Friday from elsewhere in the courthouse, commenting on the appearance of several female reporters.
When CNBC asked him when he first became aware of the younger Shkreli, who gained widespread notoriety in 2015 for hiking the price of a drug by 5,000 percent, the older Shkreli likewise declined to answer, smiling as he shook his head.
At that point, Shkreli’s lawyer Brian Waller stepped in and said he didn’t want his client speaking with reporters. The younger Shkreli’s lawyers likewise have asked him repeatedly not to talk to the media, given his habit of making outrageous comments.
The courtroom soon emptied out, leaving behind the legal team of Martin Shkreli, the “Pharma bro” one, to resume their patient wait for a verdict in the case.