FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried to be Jailed Before Trial
Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, will be heading to jail after a judge granted federal prosecutors’ request to revoke his bail. The decision was made due to alleged witness tampering. Bankman-Fried will be taken into custody immediately following a court hearing in New York and will remain there until his criminal trial begins on October 2.
Judge Denies Delayed Detention
Judge Lewis Kaplan denied Bankman-Fried’s request to delay his detention pending an appeal. During his ruling, Judge Kaplan stated that there is probable cause to believe that the defendant attempted to tamper with witnesses on at least two occasions.
Bankman-Fried Taken Into Custody
At the end of the hearing, court marshals took Bankman-Fried into custody. He removed his blazer, tie, and emptied his pockets, and appeared to remove his shoes. Bankman-Fried’s parents were present in the gallery, with his mother visibly distressed during Judge Kaplan’s lengthy ruling.
Government Requests Specific Jail
The government requested that Bankman-Fried be remanded to Putnam jail instead of MDC, the facility closest to the courthouse. Putnam jail would provide him with a laptop and internet access for defense preparation.
Background and Previous Warnings
Bankman-Fried had been out on a $250 million bail package since his arrest in December. This court appearance is the latest in a series of pre-trial hearings related to Bankman-Fried’s interactions with the press, which the Justice Department considers as witness tampering and evading bail conditions. Judge Kaplan had previously warned Bankman-Fried in July regarding his conversations with the media.
Defense and Press Objections
The press, including The New York Times and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, objected to Bankman-Fried’s detention, citing concerns about free speech. Defense attorneys argued that Bankman-Fried was exercising his first amendment rights and did not violate any bail conditions by speaking with journalists. The defense also claimed that Bankman-Fried’s ability to properly prepare for the trial would be hindered without internet access.
Government’s Case Against Bankman-Fried
In their motion for detention, the government stated that Bankman-Fried had sent over 100 emails and made over 1,000 phone calls to the media. The tipping point for prosecutors was Bankman-Fried leaking private diary entries of his ex-girlfriend, Caroline Ellison, to The New York Times. Ellison has pleaded guilty to federal charges and is expected to be a key witness for the prosecution.
Judge’s Rationale for Detention
Judge Kaplan explained during his ruling that there was sufficient evidence to support the prosecution’s claim of witness tampering. He described Bankman-Fried’s contribution to the Ellison story as an attempt to “hurt” and “discredit” a witness. Bankman-Fried’s revised bail conditions now include restricted internet access and a ban on smartphone use.
New Superseding Indictment Planned
The government plans to file a new superseding indictment next week. This is the second time charges have been modified to comply with an extradition agreement with The Bahamas, where Bankman-Fried was previously held in custody.
Please note that this story is developing and updates will be provided.