Jailed Founder of Bankrupt Cryptocurrency Exchange FTX Confirms New Lawyers Despite Potential Conflict of Interest

Sam Bankman-Fried, the incarcerated founder of bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, made his first court appearance since his fraud conviction in November. Despite a potential conflict of interest, Bankman-Fried confirmed his decision to retain new lawyers during the hearing. The 31-year-old, who hired defense attorneys Marc Mukasey and Torrey Young in January, faces a lengthy prison sentence after a federal court jury found him guilty of embezzling billions of dollars from FTX customers.

During the brief hearing before US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan, Bankman-Fried expressed his comfort with Mukasey and Young’s representation, despite their involvement in the defense of Alex Mashinsky, the founder of bankrupt cryptocurrency lender Celsius Networks. Mashinsky, who has pleaded not guilty to separate fraud charges, is also being represented by the same legal team. Bankman-Fried acknowledged the potential conflict, stating that Celsius had business interactions with the firms he previously ran.

Mukasey, a former federal prosecutor and son of former US Attorney General Michael Mukasey, previously served on former President Donald Trump’s personal legal team. He also represented Trevor Milton, the founder of electric- and hydrogen-powered truck maker Nikola, who was convicted of fraud and sentenced to four years in prison. Bankman-Fried informed Judge Kaplan that he had consulted with his trial lawyers, Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell, as well as Alexandra Shapiro, who will handle his appeal, regarding Mukasey’s potential conflict. Cohen and Everdell are expected to request permission to withdraw from the case.

In a court filing on February 6, prosecutors alleged that Bankman-Fried’s Alameda Research hedge fund used stolen FTX customer funds to repay loans from Celsius. The prosecutors noted that Bankman-Fried and Mashinsky may have differing opinions on whether Celsius was defrauded and entitled to restitution. Bankman-Fried, who has been held at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center since August 2023, disclosed that he has been taking anti-depressant medication and Adderall, a medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. During his trial, his defense team argued that he required a higher dose of Adderall to focus than what was provided in jail.

Author: CrimeDoor

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