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How Sam Bankman-Fried's sentencing compares to other white collar cases| GuyWhoKnowsThings


Two years in prison for tax and stock market violations. Eleven years for deceiving investors. A 150-year sentence for the largest Ponzi scheme in history.

The country's most notorious white-collar scammers, such as Bernie Madoff and Elizabeth Holmes – have received a variety of punishments for their crimes, from relatively short prison sentences to life sentences.

On Thursday, Sam Bankman-Fried, the former cryptocurrency mogul, joined their ranks and received a 25-year sentence for fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.

Mr. Bankman-Fried was convicted of robbery $8 billion from clients of his international cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, charges that carry a maximum sentence of 110 years. In legal filings, prosecutors cited 13 examples of white-collar prosecutions involving a loss of more than $100 million. In all but two cases, the defendant was sentenced to 40 years or more.

Here's how Mr. Bankman-Fried's sentence compares to sentences faced by other high-profile white-collar criminals.

Milken, once known as Wall Street's “junk bond king,” was sentenced to 10 years in 1990 for securities fraud, tax fraud and other crimes. In the end he only served two years, a reward for his cooperation with authorities. After his release, Milken began a philanthropic career, raising money for cancer research and other causes.

“Milken's two-year sentence gave him a second chance,” Bankman-Fried's lawyers wrote in a recent court filing. “If he had the same opportunity, Sam would dedicate his life after prison to charity, looking for the best way to help others.”

Mr. Skilling, former CEO of Enron, was initially sentenced to 24 years in prison in 2006 for his role in the collapse of the energy giant, but that sentence was reduced after an appeal. He ultimately spent 12 years in prison.

Madoff, a Wall Street financier, orchestrated what is considered the largest Ponzi scheme in history and was sentenced to 150 years in prison in 2009. He was over 70 years old at the time of the sentencing and died in prison 12 years later.

In a court filing, Bankman-Fried's lawyers attempted to differentiate the FTX case from Madoff's fraud.

Madoff's clients were “a tight network of families and pension funds who believed they were investing in a conservative vehicle,” the lawyers wrote. “The cryptocurrency investor/trader has a very different risk profile.”

Ms. Holmes, founder of blood testing startup Theranos, was sentenced in 2022 to just over 11 years in prison for deceiving his company's investors. Mrs. Holmes reported to prison in May, a few months after turning 39.

In a sentencing document, Mr. Bankman-Fried's lawyers pointed out “parallels” between him and Ms. Holmes, including their relative youth. But Ms. Holmes “is actually much more guilty,” the lawyers wrote. “She put patients at risk.”


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