The reliability of the internet within the federal jail system has become a pressing issue, prompting the legal team of Sam Bankman-Fried to intensify their efforts for his early release, aimed at enhancing his preparations for an impending legal battle.
In a filing submitted to a federal judge on Friday, Bankman-Fried’s legal representatives highlighted the inadequate internet access provided to their client for reviewing crucial documents essential to his defense. Since being taken into custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Manhattan, the lawyers contend that the jail’s conditions have hindered their ability and they “lost time to effectively prepare for trial”.
“We therefore respectfully reiterate our request that the court order Mr. Bankman Fried’s temporary release,” they wrote.
This recent request builds upon an earlier one filed on September 5, outlining various challenges within the correctional facility that have been obstructing Bankman-Fried’s defense.
According to his lawyers, the government had assured them that Bankman-Fried would have access to a laptop on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. However, these promised hours have not been consistently granted in practice. For instance, on September 1, he was called back to his cell at 2:30 p.m. for a headcount, costing him four valuable hours of preparation time.
On another occasion, September 6, Bankman-Fried was not released from his cell until 11 a.m. Moreover, the lawyers pointed out that even when he did gain access to the internet, it was challenging for SBF to upload a single document to their database for discovery material, further eating into his preparation time.
The lawyers lamented, “Despite the government’s efforts, there does not appear to be a way to resolve the internet access problem in the cellblock. The defendant cannot adequately prepare for trial under these limitations.”
The immense volume of material within the FTX case has turned into a logistical nightmare for the defense. On August 28, federal prosecutors shared approximately four million pages of documents, a burden that the defense deemed overwhelming, even with “unlimited review time” before the expected trial on October 3.
Complicating matters is the defense’s contention that Bankman-Fried is the sole individual possessing complete knowledge of the relevant companies and facts under scrutiny.
Initially, the crypto mogul was allowed to prepare for his defense from his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California, albeit with certain restrictions on internet access. However, the judge overseeing his case ordered his incarceration on August 11 due to concerns raised by prosecutors about potential witness tampering.
In all fairness, the Metropolitan Detention Center 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.
Bankman-Fried’s entry into the prison cell was not without complications. His initial bunkmate, misjudging him as a potential threat, refused to share the cell, fearing that Bankman-Fried might be a “Chomo” or “Child Molester”. Efforts to find a suitable cellmate for him were fraught with disputes until he was eventually relocated to the 4th floor, where he found himself among fellow inmates of Asian descent.
Prior to his jail time, 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.
Information for this briefing was found via Decrypt 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.