Cryptocurrency scammer Sam Bankman-Fried left a federal courtroom in handcuffs Friday when a judge revoked his bail after concluding that the FTX founder had repeatedly tried to influence witnesses against him.
Since his arrest in December, Bankman-Fried had been out on a $250 million bail package which requires him to remain at his parents’ Palo Alto, California house.
Bankman-Fried drooped his head as Judge Lewis A. Kaplan explained at length why he believed the 31-year-old California man repeatedly violated the terms of his $250 million bail package to a point that the court could no longer ensure the protection of the community, including prosecutors’ witnesses, unless was behind bars.
Judge Kaplan previously issued a direct and stern warning to Bankman-Fried in July over his conversations with the media.
In the motion requesting Bankman-Fried’s detention, the government said that, over the last several months, the defendant had sent over 100 emails to the media and had made over 1,000 phone calls to members of the press.
Prosecutors blamed Bankman-Fried for leaking to the New York Times private diary entries of his ex-girlfriend, Caroline Ellison who pleaded guilty to federal charges in Dec. 2022.
Bankman-Fried’s court appearance on Friday is the latest in a series of pre-trial hearings related to the ex-billionaire’s continued dealings with the press — exchanges which the Justice Department characterizes as a “pattern of witness tampering and evading his bail conditions.”
After the hearing ended, Bankman-Fried took off his suit jacket and tie and turned his watch and other personal belongings over to his lawyers.
The clanging of handcuffs could be heard as his hands were cuffed in front of him. He was then led out of the courtroom by U.S. marshals.
Bankman-Fried was remanded to custody directly from a court hearing in New York, where he will remain ahead of his criminal trial — which is due to begin on Oct. 2.
It was a spectacular fall for a man who prosecutors say portrayed himself as “a savior of the cryptocurrency industry” as he testified before Congress and hired celebrities including Larry David, Tom Brady and Stephen Curry to promote his businesses.
A group of progressive Democrats led by 2018 US Senate candidate Lisa McCormick called on three New Jersey congressmen to give up campaign contributions that they accepted from Bankman-Fried after he was arrested in the Bahamas.
“Only months before the FTX cryptocurrency exchange crashed into reality, resulting in criminal charges against funny-money founder Sam Bankman-Fried and a multi-billion dollar bankruptcy, three New Jersey congressman greedily accepted campaign contributions from more than $70 million distributed by executives of the company,” said Lisa McCormick.
“While FTX was handing out cash, Josh Gottheimer collected $11,600, Cory Booker received $11,400, and Frank Pallone got a combined total of $7900, $2900 directly plus $5000 directed to his Shore PAC, according to records from the Federal Election Commission,” said McCormick, who posted a petition online asking residents to join her call for the politicians to divest the dirty money.
McCormick said, “Gottheimer, Booker and Pallone should atone for this poor judgment in two ways. They should divest themselves of the dirty money immediately, by turning it over to Democrats for Change, and they should sponsor legislation to ensure cryptocurrency is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.”
A super PAC funded by Bankman-Freid made $250,000 worth of independent expenditures in support of the son of New Jersey’s corrupt US Senator Bob Menendez, US Representative Robert J. Menendez Jr., who was a candidate in New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District.