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Sam Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty at Manhattan arraignment

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Sam Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty at Manhattan arraignment

00:32

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is surviving on bread, water and sometimes peanut butter because the jail where he’s housed continues to serve him a “flesh diet” despite requests for vegan dishes, his attorneys told a magistrate judge Tuesday. His limited diet and other issues are hampering his ability to prepare for his trial, they added.

Earlier this month, Bankman-Fried, once hailed as a crypto genius, had his bail revoked and was ordered jailed by a federal judge in New York after prosecutors alleged he was trying to influence witnesses in his fraud case. 

His lawyers on Tuesday argued that Bankman-Fried requires proper access to computers, medications to help him concentrate, and a better diet in order to prepare for his October 3 trial. They made their complaints at a Manhattan federal court hearing after Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to seven charges he’ll face at the trial, including wire fraud and multiple conspiracy counts.

“There is no way for him to effectively prepare for his defense,” one of Bankman-Fried’s defense attorneys, Christian Everdell, told Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn.

The 31-year-old Californian hasn’t been able to gain access to the internet or a laptop, according to CNBC. 


Sam Bankman-Fried jailed over allegations of witness tampering

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Lack of Adderall

Attorney Mark Cohen told Netburn that Bankman-Fried hadn’t received Adderall, a medication for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD,) since he was jailed on August 12. The medication is needed for Bankman-Fried to concentrate, he added.

Cohen also complained about the lack of accommodation for Bankman-Fried’s vegan diet while in jail. 

“Your Honor, that’s outrageous and needs to be remedied,” he said of Bankman-Fried who shuffled into the courtroom, his legs shackled.

Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn, presiding over Tuesday’s hearing, told Bankman-Fried’s attorneys that she would not overrule another judge’s rulings about access to computers, but that she would see if she could get the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn to provide medications and a diet more closely aligned to the defendant’s vegan preferences.

Bankman-Fried’s charges

Bankman-Fried was extradited from the Bahamas in December after prosecutors said he stole billions of dollars in FTX customer deposits, spending tens of millions on his businesses, speculative venture investments, charitable donations and on illegal campaign contributions aimed at influencing cryptocurrency regulation in Washington.

The one-time crypto billionaire was making his first court appearance in a drab beige prison uniform since his $250 million bail was revoked 10 days ago by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. The judge had granted a request by prosecutors to jail him after agreeing that the fallen cryptocurrency whiz had repeatedly tried to influence witnesses against him.

Before his bail was revoked, Bankman-Fried had been permitted to live with his parents in their Palo Alto, California, home with strict rules limiting his access to electronic devices.


FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty to fraud

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Kaplan ordered him jailed after concluding that there was probable cause to believe he had committed the federal crime of attempted witness tampering.

He cited an attempt by Bankman-Fried to communicate with the FTX general counsel in January and his disclosure several week ago to a journalist of some private writings by Caroline Ellison, his former girlfriend and the ex-CEO of Alameda Research, a cryptocurrency trading hedge fund that was one of his businesses.

The judge said the writings were kinds of things that a former romantic partner was unlikely to share with anyone “except to hurt, discredit, and frighten the subject of the material.”


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