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Factbox-What we know about Sam Bankman-Fried’s time in a notorious Brooklyn jail


– Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, has been preparing for his Oct. 3 trial on fraud charges from behind bars since Aug. 11, when a U.S. judge jailed him for likely tampering with witnesses.

Here is what we know about the 31-year-old former billionaire’s time at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center:


U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan revoked Bankman-Fried’s bail after he shared the personal writings of Caroline Ellison, his former colleague and romantic partner, with a New York Times reporter. Ellison has pleaded guilty to fraud and is set to testify against him.

Bankman-Fried had previously been living at his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California, on $250 million bond. He has pleaded not guilty to charges he stole billions of dollars in FTX customer funds and argued he shared Ellison’s writings to defend his reputation, not to intimidate her.

But Kaplan said the “personal and intimate” nature of the writings suggested Bankman-Fried’s intention in sharing them was to “hurt, discredit and frighten” Ellison.


In recent years, MDC has been plagued by persistent staffing shortages, power outages, and maggots in inmates’ food. Earlier this year, a guard pleaded guilty to accepting bribes to smuggle in drugs. Public defenders have called conditions “inhumane.” In 2019, an electrical fire cut off lighting and heat for days.

Convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers compared the “reprehensible and utterly inappropriate” conditions at MDC to Hannibal Lecter’s incarceration in the 1991 movie “The Silence of the Lambs.” She complained of raw sewage seeping into her cell and “hyper-surveillance” by guards.

In jailing Bankman-Fried, Kaplan acknowledged that MDC “is not on anybody’s list of five star facilities.”

The Federal Bureau of Prisons, which runs MDC, said in a statement that all MDC inmates “have access to healthcare, telephones, a law library for legal research, hot meals, and they reside in certified environmental conditions.”


On Aug. 22, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer Mark Cohen said the defendant was “subsisting on bread and water” because MDC had not provided him with a vegan diet as he requested. Cohen also said the jail had not given Bankman-Fried a daily Emsam patch to treat depression or Adderall to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, despite an Aug. 14 order from Kaplan to do so.

His lawyers have not raised the issue about Bankman-Fried’s diet or medication in subsequent hearings and court filings. Prosecutors said in a Sept. 15 filing that Bankman-Fried “is currently taking medication for his ADHD.”

The Bureau of Prisons said inmates have access to Adderall “when clinically indicated.”

A U.S. appeals court on Sept. 21 denied Bankman-Fried’s appeal of Kaplan’s decision to jail him.


Bankman-Fried’s defense lawyers have said he is unable to review evidence stored on the internet to prepare for trial while incarcerated. As an accommodation, Kaplan has allowed him to travel twice a week to a cell block in the federal courthouse in Manhattan to meet with his lawyers – though Bankman-Fried has complained of inadequate internet service there too.

Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, a New York-based defense lawyer, called the arrangement “very, very unusual.”


MDC has allowed Bankman-Fried to use a dedicated laptop in the facility’s visitor room for several hours a day to review evidence brought in by his lawyers on hard drives. Bankman-Fried’s lawyers say he lost several hours one day in August when he had to return to his cell for a prisoner count.

Prosecutors said the jail has authorized Bankman-Fried to buy a second laptop to keep near his cell.

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