SBF Runs Testimony By Judge First

Jurors are sent home before decision is made on what defendant can tell them
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 26, 2023 4:20 PM CDT
Judge Hears Partial Testimony From SBF First, Without Jury
In this courtroom sketch, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried testifies Thursday during his trial in Manhattan federal court in New York.   (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

Sam Bankman-Fried took a test run at testifying at his New York fraud trial Thursday when a judge sent jurors home so he could hear snippets of testimony and decide what the FTX founder will be allowed to tell them, the AP reports. Bankman-Fried has decided to testify Friday to tell his version of how his cryptocurrency upstart FTX grew into a multibillion-dollar giant in the industry and then collapsed, causing billions of dollars in losses that prosecutors blame on his extravagant spending on investments, donations, and a lavish lifestyle.

It seemed on Thursday that Bankman-Fried was about to start his testimony before the jury after lunch when Judge Lewis Kaplan changed the plans, saying he'd prefer to make rulings on what Bankman-Fried can testify about before he starts. He had previously said he'd conduct a hearing and make those rulings on Friday. "We're in the home stretch," Kaplan told jurors as he sent them home for the day, saying he knew it was a surprise for them to have the rest of the afternoon off. He told them they were likely to get the case in the first few days of next week. Since early October, prosecutors have presented their case through witnesses and dozens of exhibits including financial records.

After prosecutors rested Thursday, defense lawyers immediately asked Kaplan to acquit Bankman-Fried on the grounds that prosecutors had failed to present sufficient evidence. The judge rejected the request. The California entrepreneur has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges accusing him of diverting billions of dollars from his clients and investors to make risky investments, buy luxury housing, engage in a star-studded publicity campaign, and make large political and charitable donations. Bankman-Fried, 31, has remained quiet through a three-week trial as several members of his executive inner circle have testified against him in cooperation deals they made with the government before pleading guilty to criminal charges.

(More Sam Bankman-Fried stories.)

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