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I'm left wondering: is this actually illegal?

If Shkreli wasn't in prison, then he would be a normal "activist investor" who has the ownership (power) to dictate corporate strategy at the highest levels. Whether he's the chief executive or not is kind of a moot point—that's just a title.

If I recall correctly, a securities-related conviction would prevent him from being a director of a publicly-traded company. But Phoenixus AG (née Turing) isn't public, so I don't think there's SEC limitations here.

That other shareholders want him removed from power is a preference and disagreement, nothing more.

Was there anything else in his sentencing that would preclude him from these kinds of activities? Or is this more a, huh, that's interesting message?

Reading the article, it seems like the rules he's breaking are:

1. Having a cell phone in prison.

2. "Running a business", in potential violation of the prison inmate handbook. I'm unclear if there are any legal teeth behind said handbook, or what.

The article also says that the FBI "has interviewed associates about his role" at Phoenixus, but not why they're doing that.




>"Running a Business"

The WSJ either intentionally, or unintentionally, is subtly trying to cast this narrative that he is a mafia-boss who is still running is illegal mafia-crew from behind bars. They are doing that simply because it sells papers, I would assume.

If you take away the "business" aspect of it, and just think of it of an asset. Say for instance an inmate owns a house; is it somehow worrisome to imagine a they would want to check up on their asset and make decisions to improve it? Obviously not.

This is just the click-bait style material that "modern journalism" have been reduced to.


> If you take away the "business" aspect of it, and just think of it of an asset. Say for instance an inmate owns a house; is it somehow worrisome to imagine a they would want to check up on their asset and make decisions to improve it? Obviously not.

“conducting or directing an investment transaction without staff authorization” is a violation of the Inmate Discipline Program of equal severity to running a business, in fact, it has the same offense code.

(Though not as bad as circumventing BOP phone monitoring, which in turn is not as severe as merely possessing a cell phone, so, yeah, running the business is the least of the offenses.)


If it's known that he has a cell phone, and it's against the rules to have one in prison, I'm left wondering how hard it could possibly be for the prison authorities to take it away from him. Or is there simply no effort to enforce the rules?


If he has it, most likely he paid off an authority figure there, which would be the only thing preventing a supposed confiscation.

Any time I read a story on prison, I seem to almost always end up hearing about contraband. Even guys in solitary confinement with long-term heroin addiction. In solitary confinement. Authorities never are held responsible for this. Prison needs major reform.(1)

1- https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/special-reports/artic...


Or he might've "persuaded" the guards to let him keep having the cell phone sort of like how he paid off the poker debts of some of the inmates.


> "Running a business", in potential violation of the prison inmate handbook. I'm unclear if there are any legal teeth behind said handbook, or what.

The handbook per se is just an informational guide, but it summarizes applicable law and BOP policy (which has force of law within BOP’s statutory role of regulating federal prisons.)

The relevant policy is the “Inmate Discipline Program” [0], under which possessing a mobile communication device is a “Greatest” severity offense (the same as killing or escape), using a phone (even a prison phone) in a manner which circumvents required BOP monitoring is a “High” severity offense, running a business is a “Moderate” severity offense.

[0] https://www.bop.gov/policy/progstat/5270_009.pdf


Great link, thank you!

Note also the sanctions starting on page 12. Worth noting that there appear to be zero repercussions outside of prison. Absolute worst case, Shkreli would lose "good behavior" time or get a parole date pushed back. Otherwise, we're talking about things like "loss of privileges".


Sure, BOP inmate discipline rules, while they have legal force, are not crimes (though a lot of the behavior they cover is also criminal, but quite often criminal prosecution will not be pursued.)

The FBI involvement, however, indicates that there at least some indications of something more than pure inmate discipline issues that not only theoretically applies, but may actually be pursued.


That's what I want to know about! They drop this little tidbit about the FBI, then move on to what he ate for breakfast. They're suggesting there's something significant here, but aren't telling me what it is.


> They're suggesting there's something significant here, but aren't telling me what it is.

Yeah,and they won't, because until and unless the DoJ indicts, they aren't likely to tell anyone what the FBI specifically was concerned about.

(Though the indication of attempts to intimidate people involved in business transactions Shkreli opposed seem the most obvious thing for the FBI to look into.)


Well, that sounds pretty clear. So why is this allowed to go on (not just in Shkreli's case, of course, but more generally)? It seems like the two possible explanations are either gross incompetence or rampant corruption - take your pick.


It goes on for the same reasons our bosses don't oppose people paying games on mobiles, going out for occasional beer during lunch or listening to music while on work.

While strictly speaking none of this should happen. Nobody minds because the overall nature of relationship is basically a kind of symbiosis, and throwing the rule book at every breath is neither possible nor feasible, and if done the interpersonal conflicts that come from it are far more trouble than the small pains from the act itself.

The prison guards have nothing to gain from this, especially while dealing with a billionaire doing a totally harmless activity. On the other hand playing nice, keeps the system going forward in the direction they want.

It's always better to control people through diplomacy than by force. It applies in all walks of life.


Did you consider the possibility that not all prison guards are awful human beings who'd like to punish inmates for wanting to communicate with people outside?

You don't need to be incompetent or corrupt to be okay with this, you just need to be human.


I think the WSJ and Shkreli both have things to gain from over-sensationalizing the story, I think your comment is spot on.


depends upon the bluesky laws of the state in which its incorporated some do have restrictions




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