Sam Bankman-Fried said again that he was innocent by pleading not guilty to fraud and money laundering charges related to the failure of his bitcoin business, FTX, last year. Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, went to court on Tuesday for his arrest in the Southern District of New York.
The latest charge, which adds new accusations to the ones from December, says that he stole customer money and used it for things like buying real estate and giving money to political campaigns. This new indictment adds a campaign finance charge to the case because authorities couldn’t put it in the original one because of an international pact with the Bahamas.
Magistrate Judge Sarah Neburn ran the meeting. She carefully went over each charge and asked Bankman-Fried if she wanted to hear the whole accusation. He didn’t agree and just said “no” before making his case.
Since his bail was taken away earlier this month, Bankman-Fried went to court for the first time since then. He was wearing a tan suit and briefly smiled at his mother, Barbara Fried, who was in the crowd. As soon as the hearing started, he was led by a U.S. Marshal to the table where his lawyers were sitting. His father, Joseph Bankman, did not come to this trial, which was different from the meeting on August 11.
Before the hearing started, Bankman-Fried had a serious talk with his lawyers.
This Tuesday’s hearing follows a request from Bankman-Fried’s defense, asking for his daily access to meet with his lawyers and use computers with internet access while at the U.S. Attorney’s office. Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is in charge of the case, said on Monday that Bankman-Fried could talk with his lawyers at the office until 3:00 p.m. EDT that day. But the judge hasn’t decided what to do about the wider request yet.
During Tuesday’s court session, one of Bankman-Fried’s lawyers, Christian Everdell, brought up another worry. He said that holding the FTX founder in jail was against the Sixth Amendment because it hurt the founder’s rights. Everdell said that since Bankman-Fried had been locked up, he had not been able to see the evidence in his case.
Everdell emphasized that Bankman-Fried requires computers with internet access to review the numerous papers uncovered during the discovery process. He mentioned that there are millions of papers that necessitate careful examination and analysis.
Everdell said, “He can’t explain his findings and analyses to us well.” “He should be able to do in-depth analyses.”
In answer, Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Kudla pointed out that this problem had already been brought up in front of Judge Kaplan, who had turned down the request.
Netburn said, “You know that magistrate judges usually don’t outrank…” People who were there laughed when she said that.
Mark Cohen, another lawyer representing Bankman-Fried, directed attention to the conditions at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where Bankman-Fried has been detained since August 11.
Cohen was upset that there wasn’t any vegan food at the building. He said that Bankman-Fried’s dedication to his beliefs meant that he could only eat bread and water.
Cohen also highlighted that the jail had not administered any Adderall to Bankman-Fried, a drug commonly prescribed for individuals with ADD/ADHD. Also, Bankman-Fried was running low on the depression drug EMSAM.
Both of Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said that his limited access to the internet, lack of food, and lack of medicine could make it hard for him to put up a strong case against the many charges he is facing.
Netburn promised that she would look into both issues after the workshop and try to find a solution by the end of the day.
On the other hand, prosecutors have asked the court to make Bankman-Fried’s defense team give more details about his planned “advice-of-counsel” argument, including what advice he got from his lawyer. The judge gave the defense until Wednesday to hand over this information.
The hearing for Bankman-Fried is scheduled to commence in early October. Monday, lawyers for both the prosecution and the defense sent the judge their ideas for how the judge should describe the charges and accusations to the jury.