the bongino report

Sam Bankman-Fried’s Ex-Girlfriend Faced 110 Years in Jail Before Plea

Disgraced FTX crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison was facing up to 110 years in prison before she agreed to cooperate with the federal government, her plea agreement shows.

The former Alameda hedge fund CEO, 28, pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges in an agreement signed on Monday.

“The total maximum sentence of incarceration on Counts One through Seven of the Information is 110 years’ imprisonment,” the document filed by the US attorney for the Southern District of New York read.

The agreement also indicates that Ellison and FTX co-founder Gary Wang had agreed to “cooperate fully” with the feds, in exchange for which they will likely get much lighter sentences.

However, experts say there is no way to know just how much time Ellison could serve — which could even be no time at all.

“To predict what she will get at this stage is impossible,” Ira Lee Sorking, a former attorney for ponzi crook Bernie Madoff, told The Post.

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Caroline Ellison plead guilty to federal fraud charges this week.

Caroline Ellison plead guilty to federal fraud charges this week.
Ellison and FTX co-founder Gary Wang had agreed to “cooperate fully” with the feds.


A former prosecutor in Brooklyn federal court, Moira Penza, also said it is “is too early to predict” what her sentence could be — but she may get off with just probation.

“It is not unheard of for testifying cooperators, even ones facing as long a sentence as Ms. Ellison, to receive probation rather than any prison term,” Penza told The Post.

“Ms. Ellison was in the door as early as she could be and didn’t even need to be indicted. She is signaling at every opportunity that she is taking responsibility and is truly remorseful.  If she ends up having to testify at trial against SBF or others that would make her cooperation even more significant and be a further argument for reducing her sentence.”

Sam Bankman-Fried pictured leaving Manhattan Federal Court this week.
Sam Bankman-Fried is under house arrest at his parents’ Palo Alto home.
Matthew McDermott

Crypto exchange FTX collapsed in November after federal investigators say Bankman-Fried used investors’ money to fund the Alameda hedge fund and by summer this year Alameda owed FTX’s customers approximately $8 billion.

For her part in the scheme, the hefty charges Ellison was slapped with included wire fraud, commodities fraud, secutities fraud and money laundering.

Catch up on The Post’s latest in the Sam Bankman-Fried FTX scandal

However, in exchange for Ellison’s decision to “truthfully and completely disclose all information concerning all matters” in the investigation, prosecutors agree to release the Stanford-educated math whiz on $250,000 bail.

Deals struck with federal prosecutors are not usually revealed before they have been completed, so the amount of prison time — if any — Ellison has agreed to serve will not be announced until after she has finished co-operating, likely once Bankman-Fried’s trial has concluded.

The bail sum is 1,000 times less than that of her former paramour, Bankman-Fried, who is holed up at his parents’ Palo Alto home with an ankle monitor after being released on a record-breaking $250 million bail bond following his extradition from the Bahamas.

Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City earlier this month.
Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City earlier this month.
Twitter / @AutismCapital

As part of her plea, Ellison, a Massachusetts native whose parents both teach at MIT, is also not allowed to travel outside the continental United States, and was made to surrender her travel documents to law enforcement.

The plea agreement shows Ellison is still on the line for financial damages and has also been separately sued by the federal government.

Earlier this week, legal experts told The Post why they felt Ellison would turn on Bankman-Fried.

“Almost invariably, people say, ‘At the end of the day, I have to look out for my interest or my family’s interest. Even if I don’t relish what I’m being asked to do,’” said Jack Sharman, a white-collar criminal defense attorney for Lightfoot, Franklin and White.

Ellison's parents– pictured above outside their Newton, Mass. home– are both MIT professors.
Ellison’s parents — pictured above outside their Newton, Mass., home — are both MIT professors.
Robert Miller

“[Ellison and Wang] will undermine likely many of [Bankman-Fried’s] defenses or arguments that they were in charge or were doing things without his knowledge,” added Michael Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor and white-collar defense attorney at Cole Schotz.

Since the FTX scandal imploded in November, Ellison has given up her jet-setting lifestyle hopping between the company’s ultra-luxe Bahamas penthouse and Hong Kong and has maintained a low profile. She has only been spotted once, grabbing coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.

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