Sam Bankman-Fried of FTX is jailed by an American judge for interfering with witnesses
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is facing jail time after a judge granted a request from federal prosecutors to revoke his bail due to alleged witness tampering. Bankman-Fried was taken into custody directly from a New York court hearing.
Judge Lewis Kaplan rejected Bankman-Fried’s appeal for delayed detention pending an appeal. Unless the appeal succeeds, he will likely remain in custody until his criminal trial, scheduled for October 2nd. Judge Kaplan stated that there’s probable cause to believe Bankman-Fried attempted witness tampering at least twice. As he was taken into custody, Bankman-Fried removed his blazer, tie, and shoes, while his parents were present in the gallery.
The government requested he be jailed in Putnam, New York, with internet access for defense preparation, rather than Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center with limited internet access. Bankman-Fried had been out on a $250 million bail package since his arrest in December, requiring him to stay at his parents’ house in Palo Alto, California.
The latest court appearance follows pre-trial hearings linked to Bankman-Fried’s interactions with the press, which the Justice Department claims involve “witness tampering and evading bail conditions.”
Members of the press and defense attorneys argued against his detention, citing free speech concerns and his assertion of first amendment rights by speaking to journalists.
The prosecution contended Bankman-Fried sent over 100 emails and made over 1,000 phone calls to the media. He leaked private diary entries of his ex-girlfriend, a key witness, prompting the prosecution’s action.
Judge Kaplan’s ruling highlighted that Bankman-Fried’s actions aimed to “hurt” and “discredit” the witness. Revised bail conditions include limited internet access and no smartphone use. Bankman-Fried’s efforts to discredit the witness were seen as indirect intimidation through the press, leading to his incarceration before trial.
Prosecutors, complying with an extradition agreement with The Bahamas, have adjusted charges twice. They intend to file a new indictment next week.