Retrophin CEO says Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli ‘went on a warpath’ when asked to step down

Martin Shkreli (pictured) "went on a warpath" when asked to step down, Stephen Aselage said.

The head of the pharmaceutical firm founded by Martin Shkreli testified Friday that the Pharma Bro’s antics and missteps were running the company into the ground.

Stephen Aselage, Retrophin’s CEO, told jurors at Shkreli’s ongoing securities fraud trial in Brooklyn Federal Court of the time the company’s board tried reining in Shkreli before he got the boot.

Aselage cited reasons that included his "immature" Twitter use, a tirade against an employee, and a lack of communication with colleagues.

Shkreli, 34, "went on a warpath" when asked to step down, Aselage said. Shkreli unsuccessfully tried peeling away investors and pledged an "unremitting wave of litigation" in one "very threatening" phone call.

Aselage said when he stepped in as CEO, Retrophin would’ve run out of money in about six months at the rate Shkreli was going. He said the company debt has been roughly halved and Retrophin is now worth about $700 million.

When Shkreli’s lawyer, Ben Brafman, got to Aselage he tried painting the chief exec as motivated to put the screws to Shkreli. Retrophin has a pending $65 million lawsuit against Shkreli, while Shkreli is suing for wrongful firing, Brafman noted.

Brafman asked Aselage about a time when Shkreli and a number of Retrophin employees went to Madison Square Garden for a rap concert.

The lawyer wanted to know if that was a "red flag" on Shkreli’s leadership skills.

"It would seem inappropriate," said Aselage. At such a show, there "tends to be language, content."

When Brafman pointed out that Aselage’s daughter, a company employee, went to the show, Aselage responded that it was her decision to make as Shkreli grinned from his seat.

Brafman also tried using Aselage’s own words against him, bringing up a May 2014 Retrophin press release in which Aselage credited Shkreli’s work for the company.

Aselage testified that Shkreli did do good things at the company — but there were "bad things that were the tip of the iceberg of what we knew," he said.

Brafman then asked Aselage if he ever saw Shkreli tell investors things he knew to be false.

Aselage said he didn’t see Shkreli lie in meetings with investors — but he sometimes saw Shkreli exaggerate or "fill in blanks" where he didn’t have the answer.

Shkreli, Aselage added, "honestly believed some of the things he said."

Prosecutors say Shkreli, who was widely derided after jacking up the price of an AIDS drug while head of another pharmaceutical company, defrauded investors who paid into his hedge funds by misrepresenting key facts like his investing track record and the funds’ assets.

When the funds went south, Shkreli allegedly looted Retrophin to pay back the investors.

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