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Monday, March 4, 2024

Bread, Water and Peanut Butter: Sam Bankman-Fried’s Life in Jail


A food regimen of bread, water and peanut butter. A laptop computer with no web connection. And intermittent entry to hundreds of thousands of pages of digital proof.

Sam Bankman-Fried, the 31-year-old cryptocurrency mogul, has spent almost a month on the Metropolitan Detention Middle in Brooklyn since a federal decide revoked his bail in August. As Mr. Bankman-Fried prepares for a fraud trial subsequent month over the collapse of his crypto trade, FTX, his legal professionals have supplied an image of the circumstances he has confronted on the jail — a far cry from the Bahamas penthouse he as soon as shared with different billionaire executives.

In a sequence of courtroom filings, Mr. Bankman-Fried’s legal professionals have raised points such because the disruption to his vegan food regimen in jail, in addition to his dwindling provides of prescribed medicine like Adderall, which treats A.D.H.D. They’ve additionally mentioned he has not been getting sufficient entry to the web to organize for his trial and ought to be launched.

On Tuesday, these legal professionals and the prosecutors bringing the case continued to argue in letters to the decide over whether or not sufficient lodging have been made in order that Mr. Bankman-Fried has entry to a laptop computer and constant web service to assessment supplies for trial. They didn’t attain a decision, leaving it for the decide to determine.

A consultant for Mr. Bankman-Fried declined to remark. A spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which oversees the Brooklyn facility, declined to touch upon Mr. Bankman-Fried’s circumstances however mentioned that the M.D.C. supplied “entry to well being care, telephones, a legislation library for authorized analysis, sizzling meals,” and that the folks held there lived in “licensed environmental circumstances.”

FTX collapsed in November, an emblem of crypto hubris gone awry. Since then, Mr. Bankman-Fried had spent months in relative consolation. After his arrest on fraud fees in December, he pleaded not responsible and was granted bail, permitting him to stay in his dad and mom’ dwelling in Palo Alto, Calif. He was capable of play video video games and watch sports activities, whereas assembly with reporters and dealing with legal professionals to assemble a protection.

Final month, the decide overseeing his case, Lewis A. Kaplan, revoked Mr. Bankman-Fried’s bail after ruling that the FTX founder had twice tried to intrude with witnesses within the case. Mr. Bankman-Fried was taken from the courthouse to the M.D.C., a jail that has struggled with staffing shortages, freezing circumstances and different issues.

Mr. Bankman-Fried’s legal professionals have filed an enchantment looking for to have his bail reinstated. At a listening to final month, Mark Cohen, one his legal professionals, mentioned the jail was not accommodating Mr. Bankman-Fried’s vegan food regimen, forcing him to subsist on bread, water and peanut butter.

“However a number of requests for a vegan food regimen, he continues to be served a flesh food regimen,” Mr. Cohen mentioned in courtroom.

Mr. Cohen additionally requested Choose Kaplan in a submitting to provide Mr. Bankman-Fried entry to 2 drugs which were prescribed to him — Adderall and Emsam, a transdermal patch that treats melancholy. Mr. Bankman-Fried had taken only some days’ value of the drugs with him to the jail, Mr. Cohen mentioned.

Lately, a lot of the backwards and forwards in courtroom has centered on Mr. Bankman-Fried’s entry to the hundreds of thousands of pages of digital proof within the case.

In filings final month, his legal professionals argued that the M.D.C.’s circumstances had made it nearly not possible for him to organize for the trial. Mr. Bankman-Fried has entry to an offline laptop computer that he can use throughout visiting hours, together with his legal professionals current, the filings mentioned. However he can’t attain a key database of supplies that’s obtainable solely by way of the web.

Twice per week, Mr. Bankman-Fried is allowed to go away the jail and meet together with his legal professionals on the federal courthouse in Manhattan, in accordance with the filings. However an internet-enabled laptop computer he was given for these conferences has restricted battery life, and Mr. Bankman-Fried has not been permitted an extension wire to cost it, the legal professionals mentioned. The web connection has additionally been shaky.

“Repeatedly the federal government’s guarantees round offering him bona fide entry to discovery have confirmed empty,” Mr. Bankman-Fried’s legal professionals wrote in a submitting.

Of their personal submitting, the prosecutors have mentioned the Bureau of Prisons’ “nationwide safety insurance policies prohibit using any internet-enabled digital gadget inside the jail.”

In a Tuesday letter to the decide, prosecutors mentioned that to get round that prohibition, that they had allowed Mr. Bankman-Fried to make use of a laptop computer that would connect with the web two days per week at a particular inmate holding facility within the federal courtroom in Manhattan. They mentioned that basically, web service had been “ample for many web assessment actions.”

However his legal professionals disputed that characterization in their very own letter and mentioned they have been “skeptical that the cellblock procedures will work as promised.”

The general circumstances on the M.D.C., which homes greater than 1,500 female and male detainees in conventional cells and dormitory-style rooms, have lengthy been a supply of concern. When he revoked Mr. Bankman-Fried’s bail, Choose Kaplan acknowledged that the M.D.C. was “not on anybody’s listing of five-star services.”

In February 2019, M.D.C. detainees endured subfreezing temperatures when an almost weeklong energy outage left the jail with restricted warmth and electrical energy. Final 12 months, the Nationwide Affiliation of Felony Protection Legal professionals issued an announcement that mentioned M.D.C.’s circumstances have been “inhumane” and famous that it had “the best variety of Covid-19 optimistic detainees within the nation” through the pandemic.

Ghislaine Maxwell, a former affiliate of the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, ceaselessly complained concerning the jail’s harsh dwelling circumstances when she was detained there earlier than her trial on intercourse trafficking fees. She described it as “a dwelling hell.”

The Bureau of Prisons spokesman mentioned the M.D.C. offered “important medical, dental and psychological well being companies” and adopted protocols designed to make sure acceptable temperatures for winter and summer time.

Earlier than they began working for Mr. Bankman-Fried, Mr. Cohen and his accomplice, Christian Everdell, helped symbolize Ms. Maxwell. Whereas she was within the M.D.C., they argued that Ms. Maxwell wanted entry to a laptop computer to assessment discovery supplies on weekends and holidays.

A decide granted that request over an objection from the Bureau of Prisons.

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