New York: A week after being jailed, FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried is asking to be let out five days a week to work on his defense with his lawyers at the federal courthouse in Manhattan.
Lawyers for Bankman-Fried, who had his $250 million bail revoked last week for allegedly trying to tamper with witnesses, said in a Friday letter to US District Judge Lewis Kaplan that the 31-year-old wasn’t able to properly review the huge number of documents in his case while he was locked up at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
“Just last week the government produced three quarters of a million pages of Slack communications, which were supposed to be produced months ago, that Mr. Bankman-Fried will have no hope of reviewing under this schedule,” his lawyer Christian Everdell wrote.
Everdell said allowing Bankman-Fried to meet his lawyers and use an internet-enabled laptop at the courthouse would speed the process and was necessary with his fraud trial scheduled to begin in October.
Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to charges that he orchestrated a yearslong fraud scheme which allowed him to access billions of dollars in FTX customer funds for his own use.
Later Friday, prosecutors complained to the judge in a letter that Bankman-Fried hasn’t turned over all the required information relating to his planned defense that he relied on lawyers’ advice for the actions he took.
Prosecutors have offered to load documents onto hard drives that Bankman-Fried can use on computers at MDC, the main lockup for defendants awaiting federal trials in New York. The government has said it’s not feasible to load all his documents onto a laptop though. Prosecutors initially suggested Bankman-Fried might be transferred to a smaller upstate facility where he could use a internet-enabled laptop, but prison officials pushed back on the idea.
Bankman-Fried’s use of the internet while he was on bail at his parents’ house in California played a role in Kaplan revoking the crypto entrepreneur’s bail. The judge found Bankman-Fried frequently pushed too far in contacting people via text and, in one instance, using a virtual private network.
MDC has a notorious reputation among inmates. Convicted sex-trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, who was also represented by Everdell, made many complaints about being locked up there awaiting trial, including that she was unable to help with her defense. She was eventually afforded her own room to review evidence all day long and “more time to review her discovery than any other inmate,” prosecutors said at the time.
Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years, which she is serving at a federal prison in Florida.