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Sam Bankman-Fried makes his last stand| GuyWhoKnowsThings


From Sam Bankman-Frito was convicted of fraud Last year, he hired a new attorney known for his courtroom showmanship. A group of sympathetic law professors have pushed for a reevaluation of his actions. And his parents have turned to former employees of FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange he founded, for help.

From a federal detention center in Brooklyn, Bankman-Fried, 31, has continued to plead her case behind the scenes, as she advocates for a lenient sentence and prepares to appeal her conviction. On Tuesday, his attorneys plan to file a legal memorandum in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, arguing that he does not deserve to go to prison for the rest of his life.

The filing is a crucial step before Mr. Bankman-Fried's sentencing on March 28, when the federal judge overseeing his case, Lewis A. Kaplan, will decide how long to jail the one-time billionaire on charges that carry a maximum sentence of 110 years. But it is just one part of a long-range strategy orchestrated by Bankman-Fried's family and friends to reverse his conviction and engineer a public reassessment of his leadership at FTX.

Since last year's trial, Bankman-Fried has hired Marc Mukasey, who once represented former President Donald J. Trump, to oversee her sentencing, as well as an independent attorney from the law firm Shapiro Arato Bach to handle the appeal. His parents, law professors at Stanford University. Joe Bankman and Barbara FriedThey have also been involved in advocacy, helping to train people to write letters to their son that will be included in the memo.

Natalie Tien, Bankman-Fried's former assistant at FTX, said she wrote a letter for her sentencing memo after exchanging emails with Bankman and Fried.

“I don't hold a grudge against him and I feel bad for his parents,” Ms. Tien said.

A spokesman for Bankman-Fried declined to comment. Representatives for Bankman and Fried did not respond to requests for comment.

Federal prosecutors are set to outline their own sentencing recommendation in a filing due March 15. Even if Judge Kaplan decides not to impose the maximum sentence, Bankman-Fried could still face decades behind bars.

The judge “could still impose a very serious sentence given how young Mr. Bankman-Fried is; say, a sentence of 30 or 35 years,” said Miriam Baer, ​​vice dean at Brooklyn Law School.

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

Before FTX crashed As of November 2022, Bankman-Fried was one of the most prominent figures in the renegade crypto industry, a highly celebrated billionaire whose face appeared on billboards and magazine covers.

In October 2023, a federal jury convicted him of stealing $8 billion from FTX clients to finance political contributions, investments in other companies, and lavish real estate purchases.

Bankman-Fried has maintained his innocence and has pledged to appeal. This month, he replaced his trial attorneys, Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell, with Mr. Mukasey, who has a reputation for making forceful presentations in court.

Last year, Mukasey scored a victory in his defense of Trevor Milton, the founder of electric truck maker Nikola, who was convicted in 2022 of defrauding investors. a federal judge sentenced Milton in December to four years in prison, far less than the 11 years prosecutors had requested.

Working alongside Mr. Mukasey is an appeals lawyer and former prosecutor, Alexandra Shapiro, partner of Shapiro Arato Bach. He is expected to present Mr. Bankman-Fried's appeal after the sentencing.

Bankman and Fried have also played a role behind the scenes. Last month, Tien said, he received a text message from one of Bankman-Fried's supporters, asking if he would help with the memo. She then received a follow-up email from the FTX founder's parents explaining her sentencing process and urging her to write “from the heart” about her son.

They were “like testing the water,” Tien said in an interview. “I pretty much said 'yes' right away.”

Law professors who know Bankman-Fried's parents have also pressed their case.

In January, two close family friends, Yale Law professor Ian Ayres and Stanford Law professor John Donohue, wrote an essay for the Project Syndicate websitearguing that “from the beginning” FTX had enough assets to satisfy its customers.

“Whatever else can be said about Bankman-Fried, he was a brilliant businessman,” Ayres and Donohue wrote.

Another law professor, Jonathan Lipson of Temple University, said in an interview that he was working with David Skeel of the University of Pennsylvania Law School on an academic paper criticizing Sullivan & Cromwell, the law firm overseeing the FTX bankruptcy.

In September, Mr. Lipson co-wrote a brief in the bankruptcy case arguing for the appointment of an independent examiner to review Sullivan & Cromwell's actions, including its close collaboration with federal prosecutors. He said he spoke to Bankman-Fried and her mother last year after another Stanford law professor reached out to the case and offered to put them in touch.

In their article, Lipson and Skeel argue that Sullivan & Cromwell “may have distorted the criminal justice process” by giving prosecutors broad access to FTX resources and data, according to an unpublished draft shared with The New York Times.

A Sullivan & Cromwell spokesman declined to comment. In court documents, prosecutors described the information sharing as “routine practices of companies cooperating in an investigation.”

Bankman-Fried faces many difficulties. Criminal convictions are rarely overturned on appeal.

Bankman-Fried has been housed at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center since last summer and has spent much of his time working on the case, a person with knowledge of the matter said. He also shared advice about the cryptocurrency market with the guards, the person said, recommending investments in the digital currency Solana.

This month, Bankman-Fried left the detention center for her first public court appearance since the trial, a hearing to authorize her new legal representation. In a Manhattan courtroom, Bankman-Fried was clean-shaven and dressed in a baggy brown prison uniform. Sometimes he would turn and smile at the journalists sitting in the gallery.

J. Eduardo Moreno contributed with reports.


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