Sam Bankman-Fried can’t catch a break: Judges reject 7 proposed witnesses and refuse his release before trial

Sam Bankman Fried, the former CEO of the now-bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, just can’t seem to persuade a judge to grant him any favors.

On Thursday, Lewis A. Kaplan, the judge overseeing his criminal case in the Southern District of New York, precluded testimony from seven expert witnesses proposed by Bankman-Fried’s lawyers. Kaplan did provide his lawyers the opportunity to refile and let four of those expert witnesses testify—but only in rebuttal to expert witnesses the Justice Department plans to bring to trial.

And shortly after, the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals denied Bankman-Fried’s request to be released from jail before and during the trial. “We have reviewed the Defendant-Appellant’s additional arguments and find them unpersuasive,” wrote a three-judge panel.

In August, Bankman-Fried’s bail was revoked after the Justice Department persuaded Kaplan that the former crypto luminary had repeatedly attempted to tamper with witnesses before the trial, especially when he leaked documents about Caroline Ellison, former CEO at FTX-linked hedge fund Alameda Research, to The New York Times. Since then, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers have tried to get him out of one of the most notorious jails in Brooklyn, arguing that the Metropolitan Detention Center’s conditions prevent him from sufficiently preparing for his trial.

A spokesperson for Bankman-Fried’s legal team declined to comment on the recent court losses when reached Friday morning.

Lieutenants flip

Bankman-Fried’s legal setbacks come just two weeks before he’s to appear in court in one of the most high-profile white-collar criminal cases in recent memory.

In December, just one month after FTX declared bankruptcy, the Justice Department indicted Bankman-Fried and some of his key lieutenants for fraud. “We allege that the defendant conspired to defraud customers by misappropriating their deposits; to defraud lenders; to commit securities fraud and money laundering; and to violate campaign finance laws,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

Since then, Bankman-Fried’s fellow executives have one by one turned against him, accepting plea deals in exchange for presumably providing prosecutors with more ammunition. So far, Caroline Ellison, Gary Wang, Nishad Singh, and Ryan Salame have all pleaded guilty.

Bankman-Fried has continued to fight in court, pleading not guilty—first in January, then again in March—to five new charges, and then in August to an amended indictment—all in anticipation of his October trial date.

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