FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyer asks judge to reject 100-year recommended sentence

NEW YORK — Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyer said on Tuesday that a proposed 100-year prison sentence for the FTX founder by one arm of the court is “grotesque” and “barbaric” and that at most a few years in prison is appropriate for crimes on the area of ​​cryptocurrency that the Californian man still disputes.

In current arguments filed just minutes before a late Tuesday deadline in Manhattan federal court, attorney Marc Mukasey said a report from probation officers improperly calculated federal sentencing guidelines to recommend a sentence of just 10 years was shorter than the maximum potential sentence of 110 years.

A spokesperson for the plaintiffs, who will respond in court filings in mid-March, declined comment. However, Mukasey noted that prosecutors agree with the 100-year recommendation and say it was supported by evidence from the trial.

On March 28, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan will sentence the man who prosecutors say defrauded investors and customers of at least $10 billion in companies he controlled between 2017 and 2022.

His FTX trading platform was seen as a pioneer by some in the cryptocurrency industry before it went bankrupt in November 2022, weeks before he was brought to the United States from the Bahamas for trial.

At a trial in November, the man known for his casual clothes and wanted her was convicted of fraud and conspiracy charges by a jury that was unswayed by Bankman-Fried’s testimony.

Mukasey wrote Tuesday that the probation office miscalculated federal sentencing guidelines to justify its recommendation. A proper sentence, Mukasey said, would be based on guidelines that would require between five and a maximum of six and a half years in prison.

When Bankman-Fried’s charitable works and his commitment to others are taken into account, an appropriate sentence would “immediately return him to a productive role in society,” the lawyer said. Mukasey signed the 90-page document, which was also worked on by four other attorneys.

Mukasey said the Probation Office “recommends that the Court sentence Sam to 100 years in prison. That recommendation is grotesque.” He called on the judge to reject the “barbaric proposal” for a “brilliant, complex and human person” who does not use drugs, rarely drinks and is a first-time offender.

“Sam is not the ‘evil genius’ portrayed in the media, or the greedy villain depicted during the trial,” Mukasey wrote. “Sam is a 31-year-old, first-time non-violent offender, who was joined in the conduct in question by at least four other guilty individuals, in a case where victims are ready to recover – have always been ready to recover – one hundred cents on the dollar.”

FTX was once the second-largest crypto exchange in the world, and Bankman-Fried seemed to be flying high with purchases of Super Bowl ads and celebrity endorsements, including comedian Larry David and NFL superstar quarterback Tom Brady.

However, after his arrest, the judge ruled that Bankman-Fried’s communications were attempts to influence witnesses, and he was jailed before the trial.

For more than six months, Bankman-Fried was allowed to live at home with his parents – both professors at Stanford Law School – in Palo Alto, California, where he grew up.

Mukasey said the media portrayal of Bankman-Fried as a luxury-laden billionaire who craved wealth was wrong and added a quote from his client’s father, who said: “For anyone who knows Sam, the popular image is of him as a high-rolling, celebrity-seeking CEO driven by greed is just bizarre.”

Mukasey also quoted Bankman-Fried’s mother, who said her son is “wracked with remorse for failing to prevent FTX’s implosion and the damage that followed. It is, he told me, the first thing he thinks about when he wakes up and the last thing he thinks about when he goes to sleep.”

Mukasey wrote that Bankman-Fried “feels no pleasure, happiness or joy even when something really good happens to him,” and that he was diagnosed with anhedonic depression in college and has been taking antidepressants ever since.

Mukasey wrote that regardless of his sentence, Bankman-Fried will never be completely free.

“He will be despised by many people wherever he goes for the rest of his life,” he said.