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Ex-lawyer of pharma executive Shkreli gets 18 months prison for fraud scheme

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York lawyer was sentenced to 18 months prison on Friday for helping Martin Shkreli, currently serving a seven year prison sentence after being convicted of related charges, defraud a drug company that Shkreli had founded.

FILE PHOTO: Former drug company executive Martin Shkreli exits U.S. District Court following the fourth day of jury deliberations in his securities fraud trial in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., August 3, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky/File Photo

Evan Greebel, who was outside counsel to Shkreli's former company Retrophin Inc RTRX.O, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto in Brooklyn. His lawyers had asked that he be given no jail time, while prosecutors had asked for five years.

The judge also ordered Greebel to pay about $10.4 million in restitution to Retrophin.

Matsumoto said she had considered that the sentence would be a hardship for Greebel’s three children and for his wife, who recently lost her brother. However, she said a prison sentence was necessary to punish Greebel’s “extremely serious” conduct and deter other lawyers from aiding clients in committing crimes.

Before being sentenced, Greebel apologized to his family and said he felt “shame and sense of loss” since his arrest in December 2015.

“I will regret, every day of my life, the day I met Martin Shkreli,” Greebel said.

Reed Brodsky, Greebel’s lawyer, said he planned to appeal.

Greebel was found guilty by a jury in December. A different jury in August 2017 found Shkreli guilty of defrauding hedge fund investors, but not guilty of conspiring with Greebel to steal from Retrophin.

Greebel, 45, was a partner at the law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman when he was working for Retrophin. He later joined the firm Kaye Scholer, but resigned after his arrest.

Shkreli, 35, became notorious in 2015 when he raised the price of anti-parasitic drug Daraprim to $750 a pill, from $13.50, as chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals. The price hike is unrelated to the criminal case.

The charges he and Greebel faced related to Shkreli’s management of his previous drug company, Retrophin, and of two hedge funds, MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare, from 2009 to 2014.

Prosecutors said Shkreli lied about the funds’ finances to lure investors and concealed devastating trading losses. They said he paid investors back with money and shares stolen from Retrophin, which he founded in 2011.

Prosecutors said Greebel assisted Shkreli in defrauding Retrophin through a series of settlement and sham consulting agreements.

Greebel was also convicted of conspiring with Shkreli to exercise secret control over Retrophin shares belonging to several other shareholders. Shkreli was found guilty of that charge during his trial.

Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Chris Reese