Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the beleaguered cryptocurrency exchange FTX, is set to face his upcoming fraud trial from a Brooklyn jail. This development comes as Bankman-Fried is accused of tampering with witnesses while he was out on a $250 million bond at his parents’ residence in Palo Alto, California. The U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan ruled on Friday for his detention due to this alleged misconduct.
As he prepares for his trial, Bankman-Fried will be housed at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, a facility marred by controversies and subpar conditions. Notably, this jail has been criticized for staffing shortages, power outages, and even incidents of maggots in inmates’ food. A guard was recently caught accepting bribes to smuggle drugs, highlighting the challenges within the institution.
This stark contrast marks a significant change for Bankman-Fried, who had been residing in a luxurious Bahamas resort until his arrest and extradition in December 2022.
In a letter to Judge Kaplan, Bankman-Fried’s legal team cited his psychiatrist, George Lerner, who explained how necessary it is for the detainee to get regular access to his prescribed meds. Dr. Lerner revealed that the 31-year old former crypto mogul has “a history of Major Depressive Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).”
“Without the aforementioned psychiatric medications… Mr. Bankman-Fried will experience a return of his depression and ADHD symptoms and will be severely negatively impacted in his ability to assist in his own defense,” Dr. Lerner reasoned.
In a New York Mag piece back in February, it was revealed that Bankman-Fried in early 2022 hired Dr. Lerner to serve as a coach for employees who were stressed out by the growing crypto firm’s grueling schedule. Lerner, Bankman-Fried’s psychiatrist since 2019, coached 100 of FTX’s 300 staffers while seeing 20 of them in his private practice.
The development comes as Bankman-Fried was served an indictment that alleges he used stolen customer funds to make over $100 million in campaign contributions before the 2022 US midterm elections. The indictment includes seven counts of conspiracy and fraud related to the collapse of the exchange. Bankman-Fried, once a billionaire, has pleaded not guilty.
The indictment claims Bankman-Fried directed funds from FTX’s sister trading firm, Alameda, to be wired to FTX executives’ personal accounts, who then made political donations in their names. This scheme aimed to evade restrictions on certain types of political contributions and increase FTX’s political influence.
“He leveraged this influence, in turn, to lobby Congress and regulatory agencies to support legislation and regulation he believed would make it easier for FTX to continue to accept customer deposits and grow,” the indictment said.
Prosecutors allege Bankman-Fried used his political connections to lobby Congress and regulatory agencies for favorable legislation and regulation, benefiting FTX. He also allegedly used these connections to present FTX as a legitimate exchange, while in reality, he was misappropriating funds.
Bankman-Fried made substantial donations in 2022, mainly to Democrats, but he claimed to have made equal donations to Republicans through undisclosed “dark” contributions.
‘Things Sam Is Freaking Out About’
A comprehensive 70-page court filing, released on Monday, sheds light on the prosecution’s plan, highlighting their intention to rely on testimonies from individuals within Bankman-Fried’s inner circle, notably including his former romantic partner and CEO of Alameda Research, Caroline Ellison.
His record $250 million bail was revoked after accusations of leaking private letters from Ellison to the New York Times, which prosecutors argue was an attempt to influence her testimony.
Prosecutors emphasize that they aim to utilize evidence from Ellison’s notes during her tenure under Bankman-Fried, including a memo titled ‘Things Sam Is Freaking Out About.’ Her testimony, along with that of several other top FTX associates, forms a crucial part of the case against the former billionaire.
The court filing further reveals the extensive array of evidence at play, encompassing financial records, political contributions, and private communications. The allegations against Bankman-Fried involve the alleged misuse of client funds for luxury purchases and political donations.
The prosecution aims to demonstrate that Bankman-Fried recklessly moved billions of dollars through leveraging his connections to gain political influence. Testimonies and evidence are expected to include a recorded meeting where Ellison claimed to have been instructed by Bankman-Fried to redirect funds from customer accounts.
Among the evidence are 750,000 pages of Slack messages and an array of financial records. Bankman-Fried’s defense team has contested the timing of evidence submission, criticizing prosecutors for not meeting deadlines and arguing for the exclusion of certain materials.
Maxwell, Hernandez, and Bankman-Fried
MDC’s history of issues has raised concerns about the treatment of inmates. Ghislaine Maxwell, a convicted sex trafficker linked to Jeffrey Epstein, and Juan Orlando Hernandez, Honduras’ former president facing drug trafficking charges, are among those who have spoken out about the substandard conditions. Maxwell’s legal team highlighted instances of raw sewage in her cell, likening the conditions to a scene from “The Silence of the Lambs.”
Bankman-Fried’s trial is scheduled for October 2, and his detention at MDC raises questions about his well-being and the overall conditions within the facility. Despite these challenges, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons maintains its commitment to ensuring a secure and humane environment for inmates.
This case adds to the growing list of high-profile individuals held at MDC, including those facing drug trafficking and fraud charges. As the trial unfolds, the focus will extend beyond Bankman-Fried’s legal matters to encompass the broader issue of conditions within correctional facilities.
Information for this briefing was found via The Guardian, Reuters, New York Mag, The Daily Mail, NBC, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.