Evan Greebel, the law firm partner arrested alongside now convicted felon Martin Shkreli, is facing his own criminal trial in October on two charges, including one in which Shkreli was convicted.
But Greebel is likely buoyed by the acquittal last week of Shkreli on the second charge in which the two were joined and which may present challenges for prosecutors at Greebel’s October trial.
Federal prosecutors charged the pair in 2015, alleging Shkreli defrauded former hedge fund investors and then conspired with Greebel to defraud biopharmaceutical company Retrophin Inc., where Shkreli was CEO until 2014.
Greebel was Retrophin’s outside counsel and a partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman at the time of the alleged fraud. He joined Kaye Scholer in summer 2015 but resigned in early 2016, after the indictment.
Prosecutors charged Greebel and Shkreli together in two counts: conspiracy to commit wire fraud related to Retrophin and conspiracy to commit securities fraud related to Retrophin stock.
Their cases were severed earlier this year, with Greebel’s trial following Shkreli’s. Greebel’s trial is set for Oct. 18.
While Shkreli was convicted Aug. 4 of three counts, he was acquitted of five, including count seven, wire fraud conspiracy, in which prosecutors alleged that Shkreli conspired with Greebel and others to defraud investors in Retrophin.
Shkreli’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, has said the loss of count seven—which he called the “money count”—reduces Shkreli’s potential sentence from eight years to less than one year.With Shkreli’s acquittal on that count, prosecutors have a steeper battle at trial against Greebel on the same charge, according to defense attorneys observing the case.
“I would see it as a positive step” for Greebel, said Michael Weinstein, who leads his firm’s white-collar defense practice at Cole Schotz.
The acquittal of Shkreli on count seven “could potentially have an impact” on Greebel’s trial, he said, because the government may re-evaluate how it brings the case and the sufficiency of its proof. “Is there evidence the prosecution did not utilize in the first trial that they will utilize in the second?” he asked.
Another observer, Alfredo Mendez, a partner at Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Formato, Ferrara, Wolf & Carone, said “it’s always good news” for a co-defendant when a jury acquits a co-conspirator. “Obviously the jury acquitting Shkreli found there was no such agreement between Shkreli and [Greebel],” he said.
“But the caveat is that [Greebel] will be tried before another jury,” and the prosecution now has an opportunity to present additional evidence—if they have it, he said.
Offering his perspective on Greebel’s case, Brafman said count seven “is at best, now hanging by a thread.”
Reed Brodsky, Greebel’s attorney and a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, declined to comment.
‘Flip Side of the Coin’
On the other hand, Shkreli was convicted of count eight for securities fraud conspiracy, the other count facing Greebel.
Prosecutors alleged the two conspired to secretly control a large portion of Retrophin stock.
“The fact that he was convicted of a count that involved his attorney, that’s the flip side of the coin. An acquittal is good news—a conviction not so much,” Mendez said.
And on Aug. 4, U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto of the Eastern District of New York rejected Greebel’s attempt to kick that charge out of the indictment.
Greebel’s defense attorneys at Gibson Dunn had argued that the charge should be dropped because it didn’t identify an unlawful objective of the conspiracy.
But Matsumoto said in a ruling Aug. 4 that the indictment “alleges more than sufficient detail” and Greebel’s arguments “are not persuasive.”
The indictment, she said, “sufficiently alleges that [Greebel] knowingly and willfully agreed to assist [Shkreli] to fraudulently gain and conceal control of unrestricted Retrophin shares, through manipulative, deceptive and fraudulent means.”
However, the judge allowed some language to be dropped from the indictment, which Greebel argued would have permitted the government to expand the charges against him by implicating him in other schemes.