(HorizonPost.com) – The Manhattan judge overseeing disgraced cryptocurrency investor Sam Bankman-Fried’s fraud trial refused to grant his request for release, saying that the FTX founder posed a flight risk since he faces a “very long sentence” if convicted, Reuters reported.
In Thursday’s hearing, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan denied Bankman-Fried’s request to be temporarily released on bail during his trial which is scheduled to begin on October 3.
Bankman-Fried was initially released on bail last December and allowed to remain at the home of his parents in California. But on August 11, Judge Kaplan revoked Bankman-Fried’s bail and had him jailed after he found that the FTX founder likely engaged in witness tampering.
Bankman-Fried had argued that his release would allow him to better help in his defense. However, the judge deemed the 31-year-old crypto billionaire a flight risk.
Kaplan told Bankman-Fried’s attorneys that if their client is convicted, he “could be looking at a very long sentence.” He explained that if the trial starts to “look bleak,” there might come a point when Bankman-Fried may “seek to flee” rather than face conviction.
Defense attorney Mark Cohen argued that “nothing in the record” suggested that his client would attempt to flee, noting that Bankman-Fried voluntarily agreed to extradition from the Bahamas after his arrest last December.
Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to the fraud and conspiracy charges stemming from the collapse of FTX in November 2022. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 110 years.
Defense attorneys had requested temporary release arguing that they could not confer with him after each day of the trial to prepare him for witnesses and testimony for the next day if he has to be transported back to Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center.
Federal prosecutor Danielle Kudla argued that in the more than 7 months he was free on bail, the defendant had “ample opportunity to prepare for trial.”
Judge Kaplan said he would arrange for Bankman-Fried to arrive at court at 7:00 a.m. on most days so he could have several hours to speak to his lawyers before testimony begins.
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