The luck ran out for FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried on Friday, when a New York judge ordered that he be confined to jail in advance of his October trial.
The former billionaire had repeatedly angered both prosecutors and the court while out on bail following his arrest in December. Most recently, he leaked documents to The New York Times about his former lover Caroline Ellison, who once ran Bankman Fried’s hedge fund and is likely to be a witness in his trial.
Prosecutors framed the leaks as a possible attempt at witness tampering, both by intimidating Ellison and influencing public perception of her in the media. An assistant U.S. attorney argued in court last month that there was “no set of conditions short of detention to ensure the safety of the community.”
Judge Lewis Kaplan agreed with that assessment. “The defense says he’s gotten bad press and has a right to try to repair his reputation. Fair enough,” Kaplan said on Friday, according to media outlet Inner City Press. “But I find that there is a practical possibility it was intended to have [witnesses] back off.”
The documents shared with the Times, Kaplan added, are “personally oriented, not business oriented. [They are] something that someone who has been in a relationship would be unlikely to share with anyone except to hurt and frighten the subject.”
Kaplan said there was a possibility Bankman-Fried would be held at the Manhattan Detention Complex, rather than somewhere on “anyone’s list of five-star facilities,” according to Inner City Press. He said he may consider requests for Bankman-Fried to visit to his lawyer’s office, however.
Previously, officials had complained about Bankman-Fried’s other antics, including his decision to contact FTX’s former general counsel this winter in an attempt to “reconnect” and seek a mutually “constructive relationship.”
Later, he used a virtual private network—better known as a VPN—to access the internet. Prosecutors expressed alarm that he was trying to circumvent oversight of his internet usage, though Bankman-Fried insisted he was just watching the Super Bowl.
Until Friday, the 31-year-old had been living under home confinement at his parents’ house in California. That will now change.
Bankman-Fried’s attorney vowed to appeal Friday’s decision.