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Judge Lewis Kaplan Rejects Sam Bankman-Fried’s Pre-Trial Release Plea – Here’s the Latest

Andrew Throuvalas
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: a video screenshot, ABC News / YouTube

SDNY Judge Lewis Kaplan has rejected a plea from Sam Bankman-Fried’s legal team to release the FTX founder before his upcoming trial to better prepare for the legal proceedings.

The decision was grounded in several key arguments presented by Judge Kaplan in a three-page memo on Tuesday pertaining to the multi-faceted fraud case.

For one, Bankman-Fried has already been granted a substantial amount of time to review case materials electronically since being indicted on December 9, 2022.

Defendants had earlier claimed that the founder wasn’t being granted ample time or internet access to review case materials during his last month in prison, as promised. According to the DOJ, Bankman-Fried is supposed to be given several hours per day to review case materials through an air-gapped, internet-connected laptop.

“He faced no such impediments during the roughly 7-½ months between his presentment to this court and the revocation of his bail,” wrote the judge.

Bankman-Fried’s bail was revoked in August due to allegations of witness tampering. Accusations of leaking the diary of Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of FTX sister firm Alameda Research and Bankman-Fried’s former girlfriend, to the New York Times.

As a result, Bankman-Fried, who faces multiple charges including wire fraud, lender fraud, and securities fraud, exchanged his parents’ home in Palo Alto for detention at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

More Than Enough Lawyers

Judge Kaplan added that Bankman-Fried’s personal entitlement to review all case discovery materials, generate unspecified work product, and more, was flawed. “Defendants is represented by a substantial team of extremely able retained lawyers,” he wrote, noting that Bankman-Fried plans to call at least seven expert witnesses to the stand during the trial.

Judge Kaplan added that the denial for release “does not foreclose a further application on a more factually grounded and persuasive showing.” The trial is scheduled to commence on October 3, with jury selection currently underway.

FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange founded by Sam Bankman-Fried, was once valued at an impressive $32 billion.

Since the exchange’s collapse in November 2022, four former executives close to Bankman-Fried have pled guilty to various forms of fraud in connection with their ex-boss. Among them are Caroline Ellison, Ryan Salame, FTX co-founder Gary Wang, and engineering head Nishad Singh.

FTX’s bankruptcy team is now considering plans to relaunch the exchange, presenting creditors with an option to hold equity securities, tokens, or other interests in the newly launched firm.