Report: SBF Is Using Fish as Currency in Prison

'The mack currency system is far more stable than crypto'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2023 5:48 PM CST
Updated Nov 23, 2023 9:00 PM CST
Report: SBF Is Using Fish as Currency in Prison
In this courtroom sketch, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is questioned during his trial in Manhattan federal court, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in New York.   (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

As he awaits sentencing for seven felonies connected to the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried has learned to use a different kind of currency. Sources tell the Wall Street Journal that Bankman-Fried, like other inmates at Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center, has been using pouches of mackerel as payment for services like the haircut a fellow inmate gave him before his trial. "Macks" became a common currency in federal prisons after commissaries stopped selling cigarettes. A pouch costs $1.30 at the MDC, up from $1 in 2020. Bankman-Fried has been at the federal facility since his bail was revoked in August.

Food items like cans or pouches of mackerel and tuna substitute for currencies among inmates because they're "stable commodities with a value that can be pegged to the dollar," Business Insider notes. Prison consultant Bill Baroni, a former New Jersey lawmaker who served time for his role in the BridgeGate scandal, tells the Journal that he used to pay four macks for a haircut. "The mack currency system is far more stable than crypto," he says. Bankman-Fried, 31, could face decades in prison when he is sentenced on federal fraud conspiracies in March next year, the same month he is scheduled to go on trial on charges including bribery and bank fraud.

Baroni says that when Bankman-Fried is sentenced, "his life will get better. He'll be out of the facility with the most violent people." For now, he's sharing a dormitory with inmates including former Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández and Genaro García Luna, Mexico's former top public safety official, according to the Journal's sources. The sources say Bankman-Fried has been giving guards tips on investing in cryptocurrencies. (More Sam Bankman-Fried stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.