Lawyers for ex-billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried are once again pleading with a judge to have him released, saying he will agree to a number of new rules, including a gag order, if he is allowed to stay out of prison while being tried for fraud and conspiracy charges stemming from the collapse of FTX.
In a Monday filing, defense attorneys Mark S. Cohen and Christian R. Everdell wrote to Judge Lewis Kaplan requesting “that the Court order the temporary release of Mr. Bankman-Fried for his upcoming trial because it is ‘necessary for preparation of [his] defense,’” claiming they are “finding it exceedingly difficult as a practical matter to adequately prepare for trial with the restrictions on access currently in place.”
The pair say Bankman-Fried “alone knows the facts which are also critical in preparing his defense,” but visiting restrictions will mean that after the day’s session in court, “defense counsel will have virtually no opportunity to meet with Mr. Bankman-Fried, discuss the day’s testimony and admitted exhibits, and discuss and prepare for the next day’s testimony and exhibits.” They add that while they are meeting with Bankman-Friend “almost daily” at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, at trial “we will lose that ability, except on the weekends and days when the Court is not sitting for trial. We believe that is insufficient access to effectively represent Mr. Bankman Fried at trial.”
They have asked for a temporary release date of Oct. 2, one day before the trial.
Judge Kaplan denied a previous motion for temporary release earlier this month, saying, “Defendant is represented by a substantial team of extremely able retained lawyers,” and that the trove of documents needed to be investigated could be handled with his attorneys. Their latest motion argues that Bankman-Fried’s “knowledge and insight cannot be replicated by third-party experts as they are not familiar with the underlying facts and cannot provide the necessary help.”
Bankman-Fried has agreed to a number of new rules if allowed temporary release, the motion said, including a gag order “that will prohibit him from speaking to anyone for the duration of the trial except his attorneys, other members of the defense team, his parents, and his brother,” the motion says.
Another rule, they say, would be to install a security guard in a temporary residence in New York City where Bankman-Fried will live for the duration of the trial.
In the hours that Bankman-Fried is not in the courtroom, he must be with his attorneys at his attorneys’ offices or offsite workspace, or with the security guard in the temporary residence, the motion says.
“The security guard will remain with Mr. Bankman-Fried in the temporary residence throughout the evening and will ensure that Mr. Bankman-Fried does not have access to any computers, cell phones, the Internet, television, or any electronic devices. Mr. Bankman-Fried will not be permitted any visitors in his temporary residence.”
Under the plan, Bankman-Fried would also be able to leave the courthouse with his attorneys and travel with them to their offices or offsite workspace to prepare for trial.
Bankman-Fried was initially released on bond in December 2022 after his arrest, but it was revoked in August after the embattled FTX founder shared excerpts of personal documents, including a diary, of Caroline Ellison, Bankman-Fried’s former girlfriend, with The New York Times. Ellison led his Alameda Research hedge fund as CEO and has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate.
The 31-year-old Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to 13 charges, including fraud, conspiracy, and bribery.