Sam Bankman-Fried was reportedly led out of a New York courtroom in handcuffs after alleged attempts to influence or intimidate witnesses in his criminal case.
A federal judge has reportedly revoked former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s bail following the release of information to New York Times reporters in an alleged attempt to intimidate witnesses.
According to reports of individuals present at an Aug. 11 hearing in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Lewis Kaplan ordered Bankman-Fried’s bail revoked, suggesting he will be held in jail through the end of his two trials for fraud related to his activities at FTX. Prosecutors had been pushing for the revocation of Bankman-Fried’s $250 million bail, which had kept him out of custody since his arraignment in December 2022.
Kaplan reportedly said that Bankman-Fried’s interviews with New York Times reporters resulted in sharing information with the likely intention “to hurt and frighten” former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison, his former colleague and girlfriend. Bankman-Fried’s legal team confirmed he had provided the reporters with some of the published information, which led Kaplan to impose a gag order preventing extrajudicial statements related to the criminal case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Sassoon reportedly cited Bankman-Fried’s violations of previous bail conditions, which included a message on the Signal app to FTX US general counsel Ryne Miller in January, using a virtual private network for his internet activity and releasing information to reporters aimed at intimidating Ellison. Sassoon added that the Putnam County Correctional Facility was prepared to offer Bankman-Fried, who also goes by “SBF,” a laptop should the judge order him remanded but also suggested home detention with restrictions on Google Drive was an option.
“In view of the evidence, my conclusion is that there is probable cause to believe that the defendant has attempted to tamper with witnesses at least twice,” said Kaplan, listing additional violations. “All things considered, I am going to revoke bail.”
SBF just arrived to court – a judge could send him to jail this afternoon over witness tampering. Here’s a primer ahead of the hearing: https://t.co/7xA205agrD w/ @DawnGiel https://t.co/tb29du8WGY pic.twitter.com/shdjrbPeTG
— MacKenzie Sigalos (@KenzieSigalos) August 11, 2023
Sassoon reportedly argued SBF had allegedly asked witnesses to delete certain messages and documents. Bankman-Fried’s attorney, Mark Cohen, reportedly pressed the judge to allow SBF to continue his bail conditions, citing the need to coordinate with the legal team, and added any allegations of witness intimidation were a matter for his October trial.
“Just because the defendant was more subtle than a mobster doesn’t mean it’s okay. […] It’s enough for the court to conclude detention is appropriate if he’s unlikely to abide by his bail conditions,” reportedly said Sassoon. “He is intent on interfering with the integrity of the trial.”
Cohen reportedly said SBF’s legal team intended to appeal the ruling and pressed Kaplan to stay his order until such time. However, the judge denied the motion and ordered Bankman-Fried remanded to custody, likely at the Putnam County Correctional Facility. Once the October trial begins, SBF could be moved to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. He was reportedly led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
Inner City Press reported Bankman-Fried’s parents may have been present at the hearing. SBF has largely been confined to their California home when not traveling to New York for court proceedings.
Bankman-Fried faces 12 criminal charges spread across two trials scheduled to begin in October 2023 and March 2024. Though prosecutors announced in July they planned to drop a charge concerning violations of campaign finance laws due to the conditions of an extradition agreement with the Bahamas, they said on Aug. 8 they will still consider the alleged scheme as part of a wire fraud charge.