The U.S. Attorney’s Office has handed former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried an affirmation of his denial of bail, claiming he may have attempted to tamper with witnesses and saying that no release conditions would ensure the safety of the witnesses. Prosecutors responded to several of the allegations he made in his appeal against bail revocation as “baseless”.
In their response, prosecutors argued that SBF was found twice to have committed/attempted to tamper with witnesses in violation of court orders. Therefore, it is unlikely that Bankman-Fried will comply with the conditions of his release given his continued evasion of the conditions of his pretrial release.
SBF’s first attempt to contact witnesses came in early January, when the former FTX CEO initiated contact with then-FTX US General Counsel, who was also a potential trial witness represented by attorneys.
A second such instance occurred in July 2023, when a New York Times report published private diary information from former Alameda CEO and SBF partner Caroline Ellison . Lawyers for SBF confirmed that the log was leaked by the former FTX CEO himself. Prosecutors contacted the district court to highlight how the SBF secretly provided Ellison’s private and potentially embarrassing writings in order to discredit her and potentially influence the jury’s perception when the case comes to trial.
At a court meeting on July 26, prosecutors requested that SBF’s bail request be revoked on the grounds that SBF violated bail conditions and attempted to influence witnesses. Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York revoked SBF’s bail on Aug. 11 after he was found to have contacted witnesses in an attempt to influence or intimidate them. The former FTX CEO has been bailed on a $250 million bond since December 2022.
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On August 28, SBF attorneys appealed the revocation of the bail ruling and claimed that the former FTX CEO had every right to speak to the media about Caroline Ellison because it was protected by the First Amendment. Prosecutors argued, however, that Judge Kaplan considered SBF’s First Amendment rights in his ruling. In his ruling, the judge noted that “the law makes it a crime to communicate as part or with the intent to intimidate or influence a witness, and the First Amendment has nothing to do with it.”
Prosecutors made two key arguments against SBF’s appeal:
The district court did not manifestly err in looking for probable reasons to believe that Bankman-Fried twice attempted witness tampering during his pretrial release.
Judge Kaplan wasn’t clearly wrong in finding possible reasons for Bankman-Fried’s attempt to tamper with Witness 1
Prosecutors also argued that the defendants did not contest or contest the ruling that SBF attempted to testify for the former FTX US attorney, which the judge found to be a clear attempt to tamper with witnesses.
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