Judge closes door on FTX founder's hopes to be free

56
2
Judge closes door on FTX founder's hopes to be free

A judge on Thursday closed the door on the FTX founder's hopes to be free during his trial, although he extended the hours that the cryptocurrency peddler could meet with his lawyers in a federal courthouse.

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan declined to make the request by Bankman-Fried's lawyers to free their client so he could better prepare his defense against charges that he defrauded cryptocurrency investors.

Bankman-Fried, 31, faces the start of his trial Tuesday in Manhattan. He has been charged with not guilty of a series of misdemeanor charges.

Cohen told Kaplan that he can't meaningfully confer with his client as long as Bankman-Fried is jailed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

And he insisted that there was no risk that Bankman-Fried would flee, prompting Kaplan to intervene.

Kaplan revoked Bankman-Fried's $250 million bond last month after finding that Bankman-Fried had tried to influence potential trial witnesses.

Bankman-Fried had been required to stay at his parent's Palo Alto, California home, with severe limited access to electronics, since he was brought to the United States last December.

Prosecutors allege that he inadvertently deceived clients and investors to gain wealth while playing a key role in the company's collapse after the equivalent of a bank run.

Kaplan said Bankman-Fried has had enough time to prepare for trial in the last seven months when he had unlimited access to evidence turned over by prosecutors and as a result of 'extraordinary' measures taken at the federal jail to enable him to work on his defense.

The case against him was 'by no means unique' in presenting challenges for review of evidence, he said. Some drug cases involved hundreds of thousands of hours of audio and surveillance tapes, often in foreign languages, he said.

However, the judge said he wanted to make every effort to accommodate the defendant's concerns and would thus order him to be brought to the courthouse on some days to work with his lawyers before the start of the trial day several hours later.

The trial is expected to last up to six weeks.