SBF lawyers claim Sixth Amendment rights have been violated, request release
Allegations of justice system failings in FTX chief's ongoing court saga.
In an Aug. 30 letter, attorneys for FTX founder Samuel Bankman-Fried told a federal judge that their client still lacks adequate access to evidence against him, violating his constitutional rights and underscoring the need for his temporary release before trial.
In the letter to U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, lawyers Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell said federal prosecutors’ recent proposal to provide Bankman-Fried with an offline laptop and occasional internet access inside a courthouse cellblock is insufficient given the “massive volume of discovery” in the fraud case against the fallen cryptocurrency billionaire.
“The defense is unable to adequately prepare for trial and prepare the defense, which is a violation of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s Sixth Amendment rights.”
They said Bankman-Fried needs consistent access to an internet-connected laptop to review millions of pages of documents and “key sources of information” only available online.
“The path the Government has chosen to take inevitably leads to inadequate representation, which cannot be remedied as long as Mr. Bankman-Fried is incarcerated without internet access,” the lawyers wrote.
Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of illegally diverting massive investor funds from his cryptocurrency exchange, FTX. After bail was revoked last month, he is confined to a small cell in a Brooklyn federal jail.
Prosecutors say Bankman-Fried secretly and illegally used customer deposits to support his lavish lifestyle, donate money to politicians, and make risky trades at Alameda Research, his cryptocurrency hedge fund trading firm.
Bankman-Fried’s lawyers told Kaplan that despite government promises, he still cannot review much of the evidence while locked up, including messages on the encrypted chat platform Slack and materials from FTX and Alameda held in an Amazon cloud-based storage system.
Saying Bankman-Fried’s access to discovery materials and lawyers has been “cumbersome, time-consuming and not productive,” his lawyers made a case for his temporary release under the Bail Reform Act’s “compelling reason” exception to prepare for the trial. They said the judge could impose strict conditions on his release, including confinement at his parents’ house in California.