The U.S. Department of Justice seeks to detain FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried before his criminal trial, alleging witness tampering through the sharing of documents with the New York Times to discredit a former colleague, Caroline Ellison. With concerns over community safety, the prosecution cites extensive communications with reporters and the author of an upcoming book on FTX as evidence.

The Allegations Against Sam Bankman-Fried

Sam Bankman-Fried
Sam Bankman-Fried

The U.S. Justice Department is pushing for Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, to be detained before his criminal trial. The DOJ claims that Bankman-Fried attempted to tamper with witnesses and discredited former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison by sharing documents with the New York Times. Danielle Sassoon, an assistant U.S. attorney, emphasized the concern that no release conditions could ensure the safety of the community due to the alleged actions.

Read more: Sam Bankman-Fried Faces Potential Ban on Public Speaking Amid Leaked Diary Scandal

According to the prosecution, Bankman-Fried has sent over 100 emails and had more than 100 phone calls with a Times reporter, who authored the article in question. The DOJ also suspects him of being the source of a previous article about Ellison. Additionally, Bankman-Fried had more than 500 phone calls with author Michael Lewis, who is preparing to publish a book on FTX near the start of the criminal trial. These communications have raised suspicions about potential attempts to influence media narratives.

Defense Attorney’s Arguments

Mark Cohen
Mark Cohen

In response to the allegations, Bankman-Fried’s defense attorney, Mark Cohen, argued that his client was not trying to discredit Ellison. Cohen acknowledged that Bankman-Fried had not directly contacted reporters but stated that he had a strategy to respond to reporters and shape the media narrative about him. The defense acknowledged the negative press surrounding Bankman-Fried but emphasized that he had the right to make fair comments in response.

Read more: Individuals Charged By U.S. DOJ for Operating Ponzi Schemes as FTX Executives Unveils Comingling of Funds

Judge’s Concerns and Gag Order

Judge Lewis Kaplan expressed concern about Bankman-Fried’s conduct while on bond during a previous hearing. The court suspected witness tampering based on his communications with a former FTX.US general counsel. The judge now cites the extraordinary amount of contact between the defendant, journalists, and the author of the report as probable cause to consider revoking bail. An interim gag order was issued, prohibiting Bankman-Fried from communicating with the press or making public statements until further review.


As the legal proceedings continue, the U.S. Justice Department seeks to detain FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried before his criminal trial, alleging witness tampering and document sharing with the media. The court’s decision will have significant implications for the cryptocurrency executive, who is currently scheduled for trials on various charges later this year and in 2023.

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