Lawyers representing the US Department of Justice are officially seeking an “order of detention” for former FTX Sam Bankman-Fried, per a new court letter.
Earlier this week, lawyers for the DOJ and Bankman-Fried attended a hearing where the government asked for the former FTX CEO’s bail to be revoked and for him to be held in jail ahead of his trial, which starts in October. Bankman-Fried was indicted for a series of fraud-related charges in December after the collapse of FTX.
The prosecutors cited Bankman-Fried’s contact with a New York Times journalist as one of the tipping points. Bankman-Fried allegedly attempted to discredit his ex-colleague — and ex-girlfriend — Caroline Ellison by leaking her diary entries to a reporter.
Friday’s letter claims that Bankman-Fried has shown a history of tampering with witnesses. Specifically, the government says Bankman-Fried contacted Witness-1, the “current General Counsel of FTX US who may be a witness at trial” through the messaging app Signal.
“The defendant’s use of Signal was consistent with a history of using the application for obstructive purposes,” the government wrote.
The July 20 article from the Times spurred the government’s lawyers to push for an additional motion to prevent Bankman-Fried from making “prejudicial extrajudicial statements” after Bankman-Fried’s lawyers “confirmed that the defendant had met with one of the article’s authors in person.”
The government clarified that Bankman-Fried does have the “right to speak and defend himself to the press, even on hundreds of occasions as [is] the case here” but that Bankman-Fried has “repeatedly” sought to “corruptly influence witnesses and interfere with a fair trial through attempted public harassment and shaming.”
“The defendant’s recent communications here were not assertions of innocence, or a response to an inquiry or to a purportedly ‘toxic media environment’ as the defendant claims,” the letter states.
Therefore, the letter continues, Bankman-Fried is “unlikely to abide by any condition or combination of conditions of release” and the bail conditions have been proven “insufficient.”
Under the law, “Where the Government alleges that a defendant has committed a crime while on pretrial release…the Court should revoke pretrial release and detain a defendant if, after a hearing, the Court finds that two conditions have been met,” the letter says.
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