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

A diet of bread, water and peanut butter. Laptop without internet. and intermittent access to millions of pages of digital evidence.

Sam Bankman-Fried, a 31-year-old cryptocurrency mogul, spent nearly a month in Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center after a federal judge revoked his bail last month. As Mr. Bankman-Fried prepares to go on trial for fraud on October 2 over the collapse of his crypto exchange FTX, his lawyers offered a picture of the conditions he faces in prison – a far cry from the Bahamas penthouse he once shared. Along with other billionaire executives.

On Tuesday, Mr. Bankman-Fried's lawyers and the prosecutors bringing the case against him are to file a joint court application to consider measures to help him prepare for trial from prison. Defense lawyers have argued in court that prison conditions, particularly the lack of Internet service, have prevented Mr. Bankman-Fried from working on his case, while prosecutors say they have helped.

A representative for Mr. Bankman-Fried declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which oversees the Brooklyn facility, declined to comment on Mr. Bankman-Fried's conditions, but said teenagers incarcerated at MDC have “access to health care, telephones, a law library, hot meals. And they live in certified environmental conditions.”

FTX crashed in November, a symbol of the crypto uprising. Since then, Mr. Bankman-Fried has spent the months in relative comfort. After being arrested on fraud charges in December, she pleaded not guilty and was granted bail, allowing her to live at her parents' home in Palo Alto, California. He could play video games and watch sports while meeting and working with reporters. with lawyers to build a defense.

Last month, the judge overseeing his case, Louis A. Kaplan revoked Mr. Bankman-Fried's bail after finding that the FTX founder had twice tried to tamper with witnesses in the case. Mr. Bankman-Freed was taken from the courthouse to MDC, the prison he has was fighting With shortage of personnel, freezing conditions and other problems.

Mr Bankman-Fried's lawyers have filed an appeal to reinstate his bail. At a hearing last month, Mark Cohen, one of his lawyers, said the jail did not accommodate Mr. Bankman-Fried's vegan diet, leaving him on bread, water and peanut butter.

“Despite many demands for a vegan diet, he continues to follow a meat diet,” Mr Cohen said in court.

Mr. Cohen too he asked Judge Kaplan in the complaint to give Mr. Bankman-Fried access to two drugs he was prescribed – Emsam, a transdermal patch that treats depression, and the ADHD drug Adderall. Mr. Benkman-Fried brought only a few days' worth of medication to the prison, Mr. Cohen said.

Recently, most of the court's back-and-forth focused on Mr. Bankman-Fried's access to millions of pages of digital evidence in the case.

In a filing last month, his lawyers argued that the conditions at MDC made it virtually impossible for him to prepare for trial. Mr Bankman-Fried has access to an offline laptop which he can use during the visit in the presence of his lawyers. But it cannot reach the main database of materials which is available only through internet.

Twice a week, Mr. Bankman-Fried is allowed to leave prison and meet with lawyers in Manhattan federal court. But an internet-enabled laptop was given to him for these meetings Limited battery lifeLawyers said Mr Bankman-Fried was not allowed an extension cord to charge it. Internet connection was also broken.

“Time and time again, the government's promises of good faith access to its discovery have come up empty,” Mr. Bankman-Fried's lawyers wrote. filing.

in them own submissionProsecutors said the Bureau of Prisons' “national security policy prohibits the use of any Internet-enabled electronic device in prison.”

They also claimed they had taken steps to help Mr Bankman-Fried access the evidence. During courtroom meetings, they said, his attorneys can communicate with him “through a glass panel that allows the attorney to view the defendant's laptop in real time with the defendant's counsel.”

Shared conditions at the MDC, where more than 1,500 male and female inmates live in traditional cells and dormitory-style rooms, have long been a source of concern. As he revoked Mr Bankman-Freed's bail, Judge Kaplan acknowledged that the MDC was “not on anyone's list of five-star facilities”.

In February 2019, MDC inmates endured sub-freezing temperatures when a nearly week-long power outage left the prison with limited heat and electricity. Last year, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers issued a statement He said conditions at the MDC were “inhumane” and noted that it had “the highest number of Covid-19 positive detainees in the country” during the pandemic.

Ghislaine Maxwell, a former associate of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, often complained about harsh prison conditions when she was held there pending trial on sex-trafficking charges. he described This is a “living hell”.

A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons said the MDC provides “essential medical, dental and mental health services” and follows protocols designed to ensure appropriate temperatures for winter and summer.

Before they began working with Mr. Bankman-Fried, Mr. Cohen and his partner Christian Everdell helped represent Ms. Maxwell. While she was at MDC, they argued, Ms. Maxwell needed access to a laptop to review discovery materials on weekends and holidays.

A judge granted that request against the Bureau of Prisons.