Sam Bankman-Fried Seeks Lenient Sentence and to Appeal Conviction

Since Sam Bankman-Fried was convicted of fraud final 12 months, he has employed a brand new lawyer recognized for courtroom showmanship. A gaggle of sympathetic legislation professors has pushed for a reappraisal of his actions. And his dad and mom have turned for assist to former staff of FTX, the collapsed cryptocurrency alternate he based.

From a federal detention heart in Brooklyn, Mr. Bankman-Fried, 31, has continued to combat his case behind the scenes, as he argues for a lenient sentence and prepares to attraction his conviction. On Tuesday, his attorneys are scheduled to file a authorized memo within the U.S. District Court docket in Manhattan, making the case that he doesn’t need to go to jail for the remainder of his life.

The submitting is an important step earlier than Mr. Bankman-Fried’s sentencing on March 28, when the federal choose overseeing his case, Lewis A. Kaplan, will determine how lengthy to imprison the onetime billionaire on costs that carry a most sentence of 110 years. But it surely’s just one prong of a long-shot technique orchestrated by Mr. Bankman-Fried’s household and mates to reverse his conviction and engineer a public reappraisal of his management at FTX.

Since final 12 months’s trial, Mr. Bankman-Fried has employed Marc Mukasey, who as soon as represented former President Donald J. Trump, to supervise his sentencing, in addition to a separate lawyer on the legislation agency Shapiro Arato Bach to deal with the attraction. His dad and mom, the Stanford College legislation professors Joe Bankman and Barbara Fried, have additionally been concerned within the protection, serving to line up individuals to put in writing letters for his or her son that can be included within the memo.

Natalie Tien, a former assistant to Mr. Bankman-Fried at FTX, mentioned she wrote a letter for his sentencing memo after exchanging emails with Mr. Bankman and Ms. Fried.

“I don’t have grudges over him, and I do really feel unhealthy for his dad and mom,” Ms. Tien mentioned.

A spokesman for Mr. Bankman-Fried declined to remark. Representatives for Mr. Bankman and Ms. Fried didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Federal prosecutors are set to stipulate their very own sentencing suggestion in a submitting due March 15. Even when Decide Kaplan decides to not impose the utmost sentence, Mr. Bankman-Fried may nonetheless face a long time behind bars.

The choose “may nonetheless give a really severe sentence given how younger Mr. Bankman-Fried is; say, a 30- or 35-year sentence,” mentioned Miriam Baer, vice dean at Brooklyn Legislation College.

A spokesman for Damian Williams, the U.S. lawyer for the Southern District of New York, declined to remark.

Earlier than FTX collapsed in November 2022, Mr. Bankman-Fried was one of the crucial distinguished figures within the renegade crypto trade, a extensively celebrated billionaire whose face was splashed throughout billboards and journal covers.

In October 2023, a federal jury convicted him of stealing $8 billion from FTX’s prospects to finance political contributions, investments in different corporations and lavish actual property purchases.

Mr. Bankman-Fried has maintained his innocence and pledged to attraction. This month, he changed his trial attorneys, Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell, with Mr. Mukasey, who has a popularity for forceful courtroom shows.

Final 12 months, Mr. Mukasey scored a victory in his protection of Trevor Milton, the founding father of the electrical truck producer Nikola, who was convicted in 2022 of defrauding traders. A federal choose sentenced Mr. Milton in December to 4 years in jail, far lower than the 11 years that prosecutors had requested.

Working in parallel to Mr. Mukasey is an appellate lawyer and former prosecutor, Alexandra Shapiro, a associate at Shapiro Arato Bach. She is anticipated to file Mr. Bankman-Fried’s attraction after the sentencing.

Mr. Bankman and Ms. Fried have additionally performed a task behind the scenes. Final month, Ms. Tien mentioned, she obtained a textual content from one in all Mr. Bankman-Fried’s supporters, asking whether or not she would assist with the memo. Then she bought a follow-up e mail from the FTX founder’s dad and mom explaining the sentencing course of and urging her to put in writing “from the center” about their son.

They had been “sort of like testing the waters,” Ms. Tien mentioned in an interview. “I just about simply mentioned ‘sure’ immediately.”

Legislation professors who know Mr. Bankman-Fried’s dad and mom have additionally pressed his case.

In January, two shut household mates, the Yale Legislation professor Ian Ayres and the Stanford Legislation professor John Donohue, wrote an essay for the website Project Syndicate, arguing that “all alongside” FTX had sufficient property to make its prospects complete.

“No matter else is likely to be mentioned about Bankman-Fried, he was an excellent businessman,” Mr. Ayres and Mr. Donohue wrote.

One other legislation professor, Jonathan Lipson at Temple College, mentioned in an interview that he was working with David Skeel of the College of Pennsylvania legislation faculty on an educational paper criticizing Sullivan & Cromwell, the law firm overseeing FTX’s bankruptcy.

In September, Mr. Lipson co-wrote a quick within the chapter case arguing for the appointment of an unbiased examiner to assessment Sullivan & Cromwell’s actions, together with its shut collaboration with federal prosecutors. He mentioned that he spoke with Mr. Bankman-Fried and his mom final 12 months after one other Stanford legislation professor reached out concerning the case and supplied to place them involved.

Of their article, Mr. Lipson and Mr. Skeel argue that Sullivan & Cromwell “might have distorted the prison justice course of” by giving prosecutors wide-ranging entry to FTX’s sources and knowledge, in line with an unpublished draft shared with The New York Occasions.

A Sullivan & Cromwell spokesman declined to remark. In courtroom filings, prosecutors have described the knowledge sharing as “routine practices by corporations cooperating in an investigation.”

Mr. Bankman-Fried faces lengthy odds. Felony convictions are hardly ever overturned on attraction.

Mr. Bankman-Fried has been housed at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Heart since final summer season and has spent a lot of his time engaged on the case, an individual with information of the matter mentioned. He has additionally shared crypto market suggestions with the guards, the individual mentioned, recommending investments within the digital coin Solana.

This month, Mr. Bankman-Fried left the detention heart for his first public courtroom look for the reason that trial, a listening to to authorize his new authorized illustration. In a Manhattan courtroom, Mr. Bankman-Fried was clean-shaven and wore a loosefitting brown jail uniform. At instances, he rotated and smiled on the reporters sitting within the gallery.

J. Edward Moreno contributed reporting.

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