What to expect at Sam Bankman-Fried’s sentencing hearing

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On March 28, former FTX CEO Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried will face a judge and learn whether his time in federal prison is ending or just beginning following his conviction on seven felony charges.

Judge Lewis Kaplan will hear from prosecutors and SBF’s attorneys in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for one of the last times the former FTX CEO will appear in person as part of his criminal case. The sentencing hearing will likely conclude the matter, which started with the collapse of FTX in November 2022 and continued with Bankman-Fried’s arrest, extradition, trial and conviction.

Source: Will Robbins

In November 2023, a jury found SBF guilty of charges that included wire fraud, securities fraud, commodities fraud and money laundering. The former CEO’s lawyers were the first to file a sentencing recommendation, suggesting that SBF serve 6.5 years in prison for his actions that led to FTX investors losing access to millions of dollars. 

The seven felony counts carry a maximum allowable sentence of 110 years. Prosecutors recommended Bankman-Fried serve between 40 and 50 years to “reflect the seriousness of the defendant’s crimes,” but the decision will come down to Judge Kaplan’s interpretation of the case and consideration of the victims and affected parties.

“I think you’re going to see a sentence of, I’m going to handicap about 30 years, is what I think [SBF] will get — maybe more,” Mark Bini, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York and current partner at law firm Reed Smith, told Cointelegraph. “There’s a big dispute between the government and the defense about the loss number here — what is the actual amount that was lost, because that’s a big driver of the guidelines.”

Bini said the sentencing guidelines would require Judge Kaplan to consider the amount lost at the time of the collapse of FTX rather than any repayment plan the firm has proposed in bankruptcy proceedings. One proposed plan would reimburse FTX users in fiat for their lost crypto based on prices in November 2022 — many have pointed out that this would cause them to miss out on recent surges in the price of Bitcoin (BTC) and other tokens.

“My whole life has been destroyed,” said one unidentified FTX user with two children in a victim impact statement to the court. “I did not agree to the risk that SBF took with my funds.”

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Source: Tiffany Fong

Related: Crypto users weigh in on Sam Bankman-Fried’s prison time ahead of sentencing memo

Bankman-Fried’s case is mainly new ground regarding a high-profile figure from the digital asset space going through a full trial and being convicted and sentenced. Ross Ulbricht, creator of the Silk Road marketplace, was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole in 2015. Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, was sentenced to more than 11 years for exaggerating or falsifying claims about the firm’s blood-testing technology.

In the crypto world, former Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao has pleaded guilty to one felony count related to failure to maintain an effective Anti-Money Laundering program at the crypto exchange and is scheduled to be sentenced in April. Former Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky, charged with defrauding and misleading customers, is set to go to trial in September.

“I don’t think that we’ll see [CZ’s] case impacted that much because they’re very different types,” said Bini. “The Mashinsky case, it could have big consequences because you’ve got the same defense attorney who’s now representing SBF and both of those being in the Southern District of New York. They’re not exactly the same, but […] certainly Mashinsky will be watching.”

Bankman-Fried’s sentencing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 am ET in New York on March 28, his first appearance in court since waiving a potential conflict of interest for his lawyers. It’s unclear if SBF’s family will be in attendance.

Magazine: ‘Less flashy’ Mashinsky set for less jail time than SBF: Inner City Press, X Hall of Flame