OAN’s Noah Herring
4:00 PM – Friday, August 11, 2023
A United States judge has revoked Sam Bankman-Fried’s bail on Friday after finding that the indicted founder of bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, tampered with witnesses.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan announced the decision at a hearing in federal court in Manhattan, less than two months before he is scheduled to appear in court for his October fraud trial.
In the hearing, prosecutors accused the 31-year-old of leaking private diary entries of his ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison, to The New York Times.
Kaplan decided that the FTX CEO tried to intimidate witnesses and taint the jury pool, ordering him detained.
“There is probable cause to believe that the defendant has attempted to tamper with witnesses at least twice,” Kaplan said at the hearing according to media reports.
According to SBF’s lawyers, they intend to appeal the decision.
Ellison was the former head of Alameda Research, a hedge fund that SBF co-founded. After pleading guilty to fraud charges, Ellison was likely to testify against Bankman-Fried in court.
Bankman-Fried, who is widely known as SBF, was awaiting a trial set to begin on October 2nd after being charged by the government for conducting one of the largest financial frauds in history. If convicted, SBF will be facing life in prison.
The former FTX CEO had been living under house arrest at his parent’s house in Palo Alto, California, after posting a massive $250 million bond.
The decision could provide complications for the disgraced crypto mogul as he prepares for the trial where SBF faces charges for stealing billions of dollars in FTX customer funds to plug losses at his Alameda Research hedge fund.
The alleged leak of Ellison’s diary was the final straw for prosecutors. They argued that by leaking the documents the defendant hoped to “portray a key cooperator testifying against him in a poor inculpatory light.”
It was an attempt, they said, to “intimidate and corruptly persuade Ellison with respect to her upcoming trial testimony, as well as an effort to influence or prevent the testimony of other potential trial witnesses by creating the specter that their most intimate business is at risk of being reported in the press.”
Prosecutors argued that the leak to the Times was the latest in a string of examples where SBF violated the terms of his bail agreement which includes talking to other media. They also claimed that SBF was involved in more than 1,000 phone calls with journalists, including 500 with Michael Lewis, who is writing a book about Bankman-Fried.
SBF’s attorneys unsuccessfully argued against his detention on First Amendment Grounds and in separate filings, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and The New York Times argued that the decision to jail the defendant could cause a negative effect on free speech.
SBF’s lawyers also argued that it would be hard to defend their client against the government as they would need to discuss a large amount of material with their client.
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