A U.S judge on Friday revoked Sam Bankman-Fried’s bail, after finding probable cause that the indicted founder of the bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange tampered with witnesses at least twice.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan announced the decision at a hearing in federal court in Manhattan, less than two months before the scheduled October fraud trial.
He rejected a defense request to delay Bankman-Fried’s detention pending appeal of the bail revocation.
The decision could complicate Bankman-Fried’s efforts to prepare for trial, where the 31-year-old former billionaire faces charges of having stolen billions of dollars in FTX customer funds to plug losses at his Alameda Research hedge fund.
Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty.
He was led out of the courtroom by members of the U.S. Marshals Service in handcuffs after removing his shoelaces, jacket and tie and emptying his pockets.
His parents, both law professors at Stanford University, were present in the courtroom’s audience. His mother, Barbara Fried, nodded to him in tears as he left. His father, Joseph Bankman, placed his hand over his heart as he watched his son be led away.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan first made their surprise request to jail Bankman-Fried last month, saying he “crossed a line” by sharing former romantic partner and Alameda Chief Executive Caroline Ellison’s personal writings with a New York Times reporter.
His lawyers said prosecutors mischaracterized his intentions in sharing Ellison’s writings, arguing he wanted to defend his reputation and that he had a right to speak to the press.
Bankman-Fried has been largely confined to his parents’ Palo Alto, California, home on $250 million bond since his December 2022 arrest.
Ellison and two other former members of Bankman-Fried’s inner circle have pleaded guilty to fraud and agreed to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan. She is expected to testify against him at his scheduled Oct. 2 trial.
At a July 26 hearing, Kaplan had restricted Bankman-Fried from speaking publicly about his case, and asked both sides to address whether jail was necessary.
The gag order has drawn attention from news media, including the Times, which in an Aug. 2 letter to the judge said the measure should be loosened to only restrict comments that could interfere with a fair trial.
A July 20 article in the newspaper contained excerpts from Ellison’s personal Google documents prior to FTX’s collapse.
She described being “unhappy and overwhelmed” with her job and feeling “hurt/rejected” from her personal breakup with Bankman-Fried.