Judge Revokes Sam Bankman Fried's Bail, Alleging "Witness Tampering" Against Deposed Crypto King
In judge parlance, that typically means contacting former friends and asking them not to testify against the Defendant.
August 14, 2023
A Federal judge has revoked the bail of former FTX crypto exchange CEO Sam Bankman Fried, alleging that the former billionaire had engaged in witness tampering. In judge parlance, that typically means contacting former friends and asking them not to testify against the Defendant.
CNBC reports that SBF made over 1000 phone calls and sent over 100 emails to members of the press. In particular, the Judge was concerned that SBF hoped to intimidate his ex girlfriend, Ellison, from testifying against him. Or at least impugn her integrity, so as to damage the value of her testimony. Ellison plead guilty to fraud charges in December, and has been cooperating with prosecutors.
Judge Lewis Kaplan denied Bankman-Fried's request for delayed detention pending an appeal. Unless the appeal is successful, he is expected to remain in custody until his criminal trial, which is due to begin on Oct. 2.
"My conclusion is there is probable cause to believe the defendant tried to tamper with witnesses at least twice," said Judge Kaplan during his ruling.
As the court marshals took Bankman-Fried into custody at the end of the hearing, the defendant took off his blazer, tie, emptied his pockets, and appeared to remove his shoes. Bankman-Fried's parents were both in the gallery. His mother had her face buried in her hands for much of Judge Kaplan's lengthy ruling.
The government requested that Bankman-Fried be remanded to a jail in Putnam, New York, where he'd have access to a laptop with internet access for defense preparation, as opposed to sending him to Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center, the facility closest to the courthouse that has limited internet access for prisoners.
On December 12, 2022, Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas and was subsequently extradited to the United States. An indictment of him before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York was unsealed on December 13, revealing eight criminal charges for offenses including wire fraud, commodities fraud, securities fraud, money laundering, and campaign finance law violations.
Bankman-Fried faces up to 115 years in prison if convicted on all eight counts. An additional four charges were announced in February 2023. On December 22, Bankman-Fried was released on a $250 million bond, on condition that he reside at his parents' home in California.
His bail was revoked on August 11, 2023, after a judge concluded there was probable cause to believe that Bankman-Fried had attempted to tamper with witnesses at least twice while on bail. A campaign finance charge was dropped on July 27, 2023, but he is facing wire and securities fraud charges ahead of his trial in October.