Judge Denies Request to Release Sam Bankman-Fried
- Judge Kaplan claims Sam Bankman-Fried could be a possible flight risk based on the outcome of his case.
- SBF’s lawyers argued that it would be impossible to build their defense with their client behind bars.
Sam Bankman-Fried’s (SBF) bid to secure a release from jail ahead of his trial has reached a dead end after Judge Lewis Kaplan denied his legal team’s request for a temporary release from jail. Bankman-Fried’s attorneys had claimed that their client needed adequate time to prepare for his October 3 trial, but being in jail restricted their ability to file a proper defense.
However, during a Sept. 28 hearing in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Kaplan argued that Bankman-Fried could pose a flight risk “if things begin to look bleak” at his trial. Bankman-Fried could potentially spend decades in prison if convicted.
Bankman-Fried and the case of the year
Judge Kaplan noted that Bankman-Fried would be allowed to arrive early on his trial days to enable him to confer with his legal team. Bankman-Fried’s trial is arguably one of the most anticipated events in crypto this year.
Bankman-Fried has strongly maintained his innocence as he faces criminal charges over the decline of the FTX exchange. Interestingly, many believe the 31-year-old could face an even harder challenge to prove his innocence given the number of high-profile former FTX executives willing to testify against him.
Notably, Bankman-Fried’s former flame and Alameda Research Head, Caroline Elisson, is a key witness for the prosecutors. Ellison was one of the first to plead guilty and agreed to work with prosecutors against her former boss.
Bankman-Fried was arrested last December in the Bahamas and quickly extradited to the United States, where he was charged with multiple crimes related to the bankruptcy of FTX, including wire fraud and money laundering.
He was later placed under house arrest at his parents’s residence in Palo Alto, California, where he worked with his lawyers to build his case.
However, prosecutors became concerned about the 31-year-old’s actions, which began to put his freedom in jeopardy. Bankman-Fried was said to have contacted possible witnesses, which prosecutors claim was an act of witness tampering. In addition, SBF was also criticized for his use of a VPN to stream football, which was a violation of his pre-trial conditions.
Bankman-Fried’s actions reached boiling point after he was said to have shared a private diary of his former lover, Ellison, with the New York Times. As a result, Bankman-Fried was confined to the MDC in Brooklyn.
Bankman-Fried made multiple attempts to reclaim his freedom, but all efforts were unsuccessful. The former FTX CEO’s attorneys claimed he was unable to access his medical needs and was confined to a bread and water diet due to the absence of his vegetarian options.
Interestingly, many believe the judge’s refusal to temporarily release SBF puts his case in jeopardy. The big question remains if Bankman-Fried can avoid life behind bars and walk out as a free man.