Judge Orders SBF Jailed Until Fraud Trial Begins

Sam Bankman-Fried tried to intimidate a potential witness, court rules
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2023 3:45 PM CDT
Judge Orders SBF Jailed Until Fraud Trial Begins
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried arrives at Manhattan federal court on Friday in New York.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Accused of attempting to intimidate a witness, Sam Bankman-Fried was ordered Friday to await his fraud trial in jail rather than in his parents' home. US District Judge Lewis Kaplan made his decision after prosecutors told the Manhattan court the founder of FTX had acted to intimidate a witness. "There is probable cause to believe that the defendant has attempted to tamper with witnesses at least twice," Kaplan said. He said he'd entertain a request from the defendant's lawyers to allow him to go to his lawyers' offices to prepare the case, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Prosecutors said the founder of the collapsed crypto exchange gave a New York Times reporter private writings by Caroline Ellison, an executive who worked with Bankman-Fried and is his ex-girlfriend. The documents were used in a Times profile of Ellison, who pleaded guilty to fraud charges and is cooperating with prosecutors. Kaplan said the writings were provided to discredit the witness, per CNBC. Although the judge had set restrictions on the defendant's use of the phone and internet, the reporter went to the California house where Bankman-Fried was staying. The defendant also talked to a reporter on the phone more than 100 times before the Times story was published, prosecutors said.

The trial on seven criminal counts involving FTX's collapse is scheduled to begin Oct. 2; prosecutors say Bankman-Fried stole billions of dollars from customers and defrauded lenders and investors. As the hearing Friday ended, Bankman-Fried's mother cried in the courtroom. She tried to approach her son but was stopped by US Marshals. Bankman-Fried gave his blazer, tie, and to his lawyers before being handcuffed by the Marshals and led away. (Read more Sam Bankman-Fried stories.)

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