FTX Founder's Bail Revoked Over Alleged Witness Tampering
Sam Bankman-Fried is facing jail time after U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan found probable cause that he tampered with witnesses at least twice. His bail has been revoked, and the decision to jail him came ahead of his Oct. 2 fraud trial relating to FTX's November 2022 collapse.
Accusations of Crossing the Line
Prosecutors accuse Bankman-Fried of sharing private writings by his former romantic partner Caroline Ellison with a New York Times reporter. The judge, known for his stern approach, rejected a defense request to delay detention pending an appeal, noting that Bankman-Fried had repeatedly pushed legal boundaries.
Charges and Implications for Bankman-Fried's Defense
The decision to jail Bankman-Fried could complicate his efforts to prepare for trial. He faces serious charges of stealing billions from FTX customers to cover losses at his Alameda Research hedge fund, where Ellison was CEO. Ellison has pleaded guilty and is set to testify against him.
Emotional Courtroom Scene
Bankman-Fried's appearance in court was marked by an emotional response from both himself and his family. Led away in handcuffs, he left behind a courtroom filled with tension, including his tearful mother and his father's solemn gesture.
Rise and Fall of a Billionaire
Once worth an estimated $26 billion, Bankman-Fried rode the crypto wave to become an influential political donor. But the collapse of FTX wiped out his fortune, leaving him with just $100,000 in his bank account.
Prosecution Claims and Defense Argument
Prosecutors argue that Bankman-Fried's actions were meant to harass and intimidate potential witnesses. His lawyer contends that he was merely exercising his First Amendment rights, but Judge Kaplan was not convinced, seeing malicious intent in the accused's actions.
Details of Witness Tampering
Bankman-Fried's alleged tampering included sharing personal documents of his ex-partner and asking an FTX U.S. affiliate to coordinate testimonies. Judge Kaplan noted that Bankman-Fried's methods suggested he was consciously trying to evade detection.
Concerns Over Bankman-Fried's Detention Facility
The location of Bankman-Fried's detention is uncertain, with options including Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center, known for staffing shortages and poor conditions, or the Putnam County Correctional Facility. The latter would provide him with internet access to review evidence for his trial.