Arguments to free FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried get rough reception from federal appeals panel

Sep 19, 2023, 4:30 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court in Manhattan seemed unreceptive Tuesday to arguments that FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried should be released on bail before his trial starts in two weeks so he can better prepare for trial.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in Manhattan, and all three judges were dismissive of his lawyer’s claims that the First Amendment protects him from a judge’s conclusion that his actions while confined to his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California, for eight months violated the conditions of his $250 million bail.

Bankman-Fried, 31, was extradited to the United States last December from the Bahamas to face charges that he stole billions of dollars in FTX customer deposits, spending tens of millions on his businesses, speculative investments, charitable donations and campaign contributions meant to influence cryptocurrency regulation in Washington.

Bankman-Fried, who has pleaded not guilty, was jailed Aug. 11. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan concluded he had tried to influence witnesses against him, most recently by showing a journalist the private writings of a former girlfriend who served as CEO of Alameda Research — Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency trading hedge fund — before FTX collapsed last November.

Kaplan said at a recent hearing that the diary-like writings by Caroline Ellison were of the kind that a former romantic partner was unlikely to share with anyone “except to hurt, discredit, and frighten the subject of the material.”

Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, Mark Cohen, told the 2nd Circuit to overturn the revocation of bail so he can properly prepare for a trial set to start with jury selection on Oct. 3. He said documents in the case that his client can no longer access are so voluminous that they would be as tall as three skyscrapers if they were printed out in a single stack.

“You can’t prepare for trial this way, your honor, you just can’t,” Cohen said.

Circuit Judge William J. Nardini was particularly blunt in his assessment of Bankman-Fried’s prospects for release, saying that he should have considered his need to study documents in his case before taking actions that Kaplan concluded were designed to intimidate or influence witnesses.

“But, like anyone else, if it is true that he has intimidated witnesses, at a certain point, he makes his own bed and he sleeps in it,” Nardini said.

Circuit Judge Denny Chin asked if there was a First Amendment right “to influence or discredit a witness who may testify against you. Is there?”

“No, your honor, there isn’t,” Cohen responded.

Circuit Judge John M. Walker Jr. said Kaplan was in the best position to decide whether Bankman-Fried had intent to influence or intimidate witnesses and the 2nd Circuit must “afford tremendous and probably the greatest amount of deference” to his rulings.

The 2nd Circuit did not immediately rule.


For more AP coverage of Sam Bankman-Fried:

National News

FILE - Visitors tour the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, Sept. 25, 2023. The new term of the h...

Associated Press

The Supreme Court will take up abortion and gun cases in its new term while ethics concerns swirl

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is returning to a new term to take up some familiar topics — guns and abortion — and concerns about ethics swirling around the justices. The year also will have a heavy focus on social media and how free speech protections apply online. A big unknown is whether the […]

17 minutes ago

Kyle Ellison stands in front of a fallen tree on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Kula, Hawaii. As hig...

Associated Press

When Kula needed water to stop wildfire, it got a trickle. Many other US cities are also vulnerable

Hours before devastating fires scorched the historic town of Lahaina on Maui, Kyle Ellison labored to save his rental house in Kula, a rural mountain town 24 miles away, from a different blaze. As high winds whipped burning trees and grass, Ellison and his landlord struggled with plummeting water pressure. Ellison had to wait for […]

28 minutes ago

File - Graduating Harvard University students celebrate their degrees during commencement ceremonie...

Associated Press

Borrowers are reassessing their budgets as student loan payments resume after pandemic pause

NEW YORK (AP) — Millions of Americans must start repaying their federal student loans again in October, with monthly payments averaging hundreds of dollars a month. To get ready, borrowers are cutting expenses, taking on additional work, and looking for options to reduce their monthly payments. Megan McClelland, 38, said she has started asking for […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Truck accident in Illinois causes “multiple” deaths and an ammonia leak that leads to an evacuation

TEUTOPOLIS, Ill. (AP) — A semitruck carrying a toxic substance overturned in Illinois, causing “multiple fatalities” and dangerous air conditions that prompted the evacuation of area residents, authorities said Saturday. Firefighters, police and other emergency responders converged on the scene late Friday near Teutopolis and were still on the scene Saturday to try to contain […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

New York stunned and swamped by record-breaking rainfall as more downpours are expected

NEW YORK (AP) — One of New York’s wettest days in decades left the metropolitan area stunned and swamped Friday after heavy rainfall knocked out several subway and commuter rail lines, stranded drivers on highways, flooded basements and shuttered a terminal at LaGuardia Airport for hours. Some 8.65 inches (21.97 centimeters) of rain had fallen […]

9 hours ago

In this photo provided by the Ocean Exploration Trust, the chrysanthemum flower crest, an honored i...

Associated Press

Video provides first clear views of WWII aircraft carriers lost in the pivotal Battle of Midway

Footage from deep in the Pacific Ocean has given the first detailed look at three World War II aircraft carriers that sank in the pivotal Battle of Midway and could help solve mysteries about the days-long barrage that marked a shift in control of the Pacific theater from Japanese to U.S. forces. Remote submersibles operating […]

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Arguments to free FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried get rough reception from federal appeals panel