FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried appeals 25-year fraud sentence

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, sentenced to 25 years in prison last month for orchestrating one of the largest financial frauds in U.S. history, filed an appeal in federal court Thursday.  

The 32-year-old former mogul was sentenced in March, four months after a New York jury found him guilty of two counts of fraud and five counts of conspiracy that led to the seismic collapse of his cryptocurrency exchange and affiliated hedge fund.

Sam Bankman-Fried, second from right, stands flanked by his attorneys, Marc Mukasy, left, and Torrey Young, right, while Judge Kaplan announces his sentence in Manhattan federal court, Thursday, March. 28, 2024, in New York. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

Bankman-Fried stole billions in customer funds to live an extravagant lifestyle that included a sprawling penthouse in the Bahamas, where he ran his business. He also used customer money to buy himself “power and influence” on Capitol Hill and lied to cover his tracks.

News of the appeal came after Bankman-Fried’s defense lawyer Marc Mukasey announced his client would try to clear his name during his March 28 sentencing hearing. The $605 appeal was filed Thursday by attorney Alexandra A.E. Shapiro.

However, to receive a new trial, Bankman-Fried’s defense team would need to convince the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan made a series of significant errors that robbed Bankman-Fried of his legal rights and created unfair conditions. 

“My useful life is probably over,” Bankman-Fried told Judge Lewis Kaplan ahead of his sentencing. “It’s been over for a while now.”

He added that “a lot of people feel really let down, and they were very let down, and I am sorry about that.”

“I am sorry about what happened at every stage,” Bankman-Fried said, “And there are things I should’ve done and things I shouldn’t have.”

At sentencing, Kaplan seemed unconvinced by Bankman-Fried’s comments. The judge called his crimes “very serious” and chastised him for “evasive, hairsplitting” testimony during the six-week trial last November.

“Never seen a performance quite like that,” Kaplan said. 

Kaplan stated that Bankman-Fried’s persistence and marketing abilities meant that it was “not a trivial risk” that he would commit wrongdoing again in the future.

He also said that even though Bankman-Fried said “sorry,” he never had “a word of remorse for the commission of terrible crimes.”

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Federal prosecutors had pushed for 40 to 50 years of the statutory 110-year sentence, while Bankman-Fried’s attorneys argued he should receive no more than 6 1/2 years behind bars.

Bankman-Fried’s fall from grace has been widely documented, as has his friends and closest colleagues’ decision to turn and testify against him. They claimed he called the shots and knew what he was doing was wrong but did it anyway and that in the end, greed got the best of him. 

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