What would you do if your organization received a sizable donation from an individual who, months later, was charged with a federal crime? Would you keep the donation or give it back?
That’s the question facing New York City’s Hunter College High School in the wake of last Thursday’s arrest of Martin Shkreli, a 32-year-old multimillionaire pharmaceuticals executive who attended the school from 1994 to 2000 before being asked to leave.
In March, Shkreli made a $1 million gift to the school—the largest individual donation in the institution’s history. The institution was thrilled.
But many alumni are now angry that the school would consider keeping the donation. Even before the arrest, some alumni had raised concerns about accepting the gift after Shkreli came to national notoriety this summer when his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, increased the price of Daraprim, a life-saving drug for people with toxoplasmosis (an infection that can be especially dangerous for individuals with AIDS), by 5,000 percent—from $13.50 to $750 a pill. One alumna even started an online fundraising campaign with the aim of raising a matching $1 million to persuade the school to return the donation.
According to The New York Times, a press officer declined to comment on whether the school was considering returning the donation.
Hunter College High School isn’t the only organization faced with this decision. Community Solutions, a nonprofit with the goals to strengthen communities and end homelessness, has decided to return the entire $15,000 donation it received from Shkreli in January.
Jake Maguire, a spokesperson for the charity, said the donor's business practices weren't in line with its anti-poverty mission, Reuters reported. "We serve people who depend on access to AIDS meds every day, and as an organization, I don't think we can keep this money," he explained.
Shkreli launched the Shkreli Foundation in early 2015. On the foundation’s website, it lists recipients—including Hunter College High School and Community Solutions—of the foundation’s contributions.
Federal prosecutors charged Shkreli with securities fraud and conspiracy, stemming back to alleged Ponzi-like schemes at small hedge funds he was previously involved with. He pleaded not guilty and was released on $5 million bail. On Saturday, he tweeted, “I am confident I will prevail. The allegations against me are baseless and without merit.”
On Thursday of last week, KaloBios Pharmaceuticals fired Shkreli as CEO and Shkreli also resigned from its board of directors, the company announced Monday. On Friday, just a day after his arrest, Shkreli resigned from his post as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals.