Sam Bankman-Fried sent to jail while he awaits trial
Bankman-Fried had been under house arrest at his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California, after Manhattan federal prosecutors in December charged him with fraud and money laundering. In recent weeks, however, prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan to revoke Bankman-Fried’s bail, saying that since his arrest he had taken two actions in an effort to influence or intimidate potential witnesses.
In January, prosecutors said, Bankman-Fried used the encrypted app Signal to send a message to the general counsel of FTX’s U.S. operations, suggesting the two could “use each other as resources when possible, or at least vet things with each other.”
And more recently, prosecutors said, Bankman-Fried shared private writings by Caroline Ellison, a former executive at a company linked to Bankman-Fried who is also his former girlfriend, with a reporter for the New York Times. Ellison has pleaded guilty to fraud charges, is cooperating with the government and is expected to be a witness against Bankman-Fried at his trial in October.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers didn’t dispute that he took those actions, but argued they didn’t violate the terms of his bail and that he shouldn’t be punished for seeking to protect his reputation.
In his ruling in Manhattan federal court Friday, Kaplan said he believed Bankman-Fried’s actions were intended “to influence those people, to have them back off, to have them hedge their cooperation.”
With respect to the Signal message, Kaplan described it as Bankman-Fried’s “invitation” to the individual to “sing out of the same hymn book for their mutual benefit.” As to the Ellison writings, Kaplan said they were shared “to hurt, discredit and frighten the subject of the material.”
As the judge issued his decision, Bankman-Fried fidgeted his hands, but didn’t appear to react.
Mark Cohen, an attorney for Bankman-Fried, said he would appeal the judge’s ruling and asked the judge to stay his order pending the appeal. The judge denied his application for a stay.
As the hearing concluded, two U.S. marshals who had been sitting directly behind Bankman-Fried approached him. He began to remove his suit jacket, tie, shoes, and watch as the marshals hovered near him.
It wasn’t immediately clear where Bankman-Fried would be jailed while he awaits trial.