Following the alleged dissemination of information to New York Times journalists in a suspected bid to intimidate witnesses, a federal judge has purportedly withdrawn the bail of former FTX CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried.
Eyewitness accounts from an August 11th session at the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York indicate that Judge Lewis Kaplan has ordered the annulment of Bankman-Fried’s bail, implying that he will remain in detention throughout his two fraud-related trials connected to his actions at FTX. Prosecutors had been advocating for the forfeiture of Bankman-Fried’s $250 million bail, which had thus far prevented his incarceration since his arraignment back in December 2022.
Reportedly, Judge Kaplan remarked that Bankman-Fried’s interactions with New York Times journalists resulted in the divulgence of information with the apparent intent of causing harm and fear to Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of Alameda Research and his former partner. Bankman-Fried’s legal team confirmed his engagement with the journalists, prompting Judge Kaplan to enforce a gag order prohibiting non-judicial declarations linked to the criminal case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon purportedly highlighted Bankman-Fried’s breach of prior bail stipulations. These violations encompassed a Signal app message to FTX US general counsel Ryne Miller in January, utilization of a virtual private network for online activities, and the release of data to journalists aimed at intimidating Ellison. Sassoon also mentioned that the Putnam County Correctional Facility was ready to furnish Bankman-Fried, also known as “SBF,” with a laptop should the judge decree his detention, while also proposing the possibility of home confinement with restrictions on Google Drive usage.
“In light of the evidence, I conclude that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the defendant attempted to interfere with witnesses on at least two occasions,” stated Kaplan, enumerating further transgressions. “Taking all factors into account, I am inclined to revoke the bail.”
According to reports, Sassoon purportedly contended that SBF had allegedly made requests to witnesses for the deletion of specific messages and documents. Mark Cohen, Bankman-Fried’s attorney, allegedly urged the judge to permit the continuation of SBF’s bail conditions, emphasizing the necessity of maintaining communication with the legal team. Cohen also asserted that any allegations of witness intimidation should be addressed during SBF’s trial scheduled for October.
Sassoon reportedly expressed, “Just because the defendant’s approach was more nuanced than that of a mobster doesn’t make it acceptable. […] The court can reasonably conclude that detention is appropriate if he’s not likely to comply with his bail conditions. He appears determined to undermine the trial’s integrity.”
Cohen allegedly stated that SBF’s legal team planned to challenge the decision and requested Judge Kaplan to suspend his order until that time. Nonetheless, the judge declined the request and instructed Bankman-Fried to be taken into custody, presumably at the Putnam County Correctional Facility. Upon the commencement of the October trial, SBF might be transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. Reportedly, he was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
According to Inner City Press, it was possibly noted that Bankman-Fried’s parents attended the hearing. When not journeying to New York for legal proceedings, SBF has predominantly remained confined to their residence in California.
Bankman-Fried is confronted with a total of 12 criminal charges, distributed across two separate trials scheduled to commence in October 2023 and March 2024. Despite the prosecution’s announcement in July about their intention to dismiss a charge associated with campaign finance law violations due to the terms of an extradition agreement with the Bahamas, they declared on August 8 that they would still incorporate the alleged scheme as part of a wire fraud accusation.