Prosecutors have asked a federal judge to detain Sam Bankman-Fried before his trial, which is set to begin in October.
The judge has ordered a broad, temporary gag order in the case while he analyzes their request.
When prosecutors told the judge that they wanted Sam Bankman-Fried detained, there were audible gasps in the courtroom. Mark S. Cohen, his defense attorney, stated that he was only informed of the request “one minute before court.”
Since December, Sam Bankman-Fried has been staying under house arrest at his parent’s home in Northern California, close to the Stanford campus. He was released after securing a $250 million bond.
After The New York Times published an article about Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of the cryptocurrency hedge fund Sam Bankman-Fried established, the United States requested changes to Bankman-Fried’s bail arrangement.
Ellison is also Sam Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend and a major prosecution witness. She pled guilty to fraud charges earlier this year and is anticipated to testify against him during his trial.
Sam Bankman-Fried recently agreed to an interview with The New York Times and gave a reporter some of Ellison’s “private writings.” The prosecution claimed this constituted witness tampering and that it could contaminate the jury pool.
According to the US authorities, Sam Bankman-Fried has made over 1,000 phone calls to journalists since he was arrested. According to prosecutors, he had over 100 phone talks with the reporter who wrote the Ellison story, several of which lasted more than 20 minutes.
They also highlight that Sam Bankman-Fried has had over 500 phone talks with author Michael Lewis, who is working on a book about the disgraced crypto mogul’s rise and collapse.
Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX was formerly the world’s most popular cryptocurrency exchange. FTX went bankrupt at the end of last year, and Bankman-Fried was arrested and charged with organizing one of the greatest financial frauds in history.
Unlike previous high-profile defendants, he has communicated often with the public and reporters.
This is not the first time Judge Lewis Kaplan has contemplated modifying Sam Bankman-Fried’s bail terms. After protectors realized Bankman-Fried had used an encrypted messaging app to speak with a former colleague at FTX, he agreed to the government’s request to limit the defendant’s Internet access.
During the earlier proceedings, Kaplan appeared irritated by Sam Bankman-Fried’s behavior and asked attorneys for the Southern District of New York why they weren’t putting even tighter restrictions on the defendant.
Kaplan stated at the end of today’s hearing that he is considering the prosecution’s request, which he wants in writing by Friday, “very seriously.”
“You better take it seriously, too,” he said to the defendant.