FTX founder keeps talking, ignoring typical legal strategy

NEW YORK (AP) — For federal prosecutors, Sam Bankman-Fried could be the gift that keeps on giving.

After the November collapse of FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange he founded in 2019, Bankman-Fried unexpectedly gave a series of interviews intended to present his version of events. He was indicted in December and charged with perpetrating one of the biggest frauds in U.S. history — and he’s still talking, either in person or on the internet.

The atypical chattiness for a criminal defendant is likely causing Bankman-Fried’s attorneys to scratch their heads, or worse. Prosecutors can use any statements, tweets or other communications against him at his trial, which is scheduled for October.

“Prosecutors love when defendants shoot their mouths off,” said Daniel R. Alonso, a former federal prosecutor who is now a white-collar criminal defense attorney. If Bankman-Fried’s public comments before trial can be proven false during the trial, it may undermine his credibility with a jury, he said.

Bankman-Fried returned to Manhattan federal court on Thursday for a hearing into whether his bail package will be altered to prevent witness tampering. Prosecutors say he sent an encrypted message over the Signal texting app on Jan. 15 to the general counsel of FTX US, a likely witness for the government.

Lawyers were scheduled to submit more information to Judge Lewis A. Kaplan by Monday before he makes a decision about the bail package. Bankman-Fried has been confined with electronic monitoring to his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California, since December.

Before its collapse, FTX was the world’s second-largest crypto exchange and Bankman-Fried, 30, was its CEO and a billionaire several times over, at least on paper. Celebrities and politicians alike vouched for FTX and its founder, and Bankman-Fried was considered a leading figure in the crypto world.

However, the broad

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DOJ, Georgia, New York: A guide to Trump’s legal threats

Meanwhile, the Jan. 6 select committee is still pursuing wide-ranging inquiries into Trump’s conduct and preparing to reveal reams of evidence to federal prosecutors as well.

“We’ve spoken a lot about accountability,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), a member of the select panel on the Capitol attack by Trump supporters. “And in order for that, for there to be true accountability, the Department of Justice may have to act.”

DOJ has signaled particular interest in the bevy of lawyers who surrounded Trump during his final weeks in the White House — including Eastman, Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis. Federal grand jury subpoenas that went out in recent months to witnesses in Georgia and Arizona cited potential contacts with Giuliani, Eastman and Ellis. The Washington Post first reported on the Arizona subpoena, and a person familiar with the Georgia document shared information about its contents with POLITICO.

Bernie Kerik, the former New York police commissioner and longtime Giuliani ally, was also named on both Georgia and Arizona subpoenas. Kerik worked with Giuliani on Trump’s post-election legal strategy, making him a potentially valuable witness.

But DOJ’s interest in that strategy may come with its own built-in challenges. Tim Parlatore, a lawyer for the former commissioner who also represents Trump on a separate matter, told POLITICO that he would move to quash any DOJ subpoena of Kerik.

“He was a member of the legal team, so a large portion of his knowledge would be privileged and therefore something the DOJ is not permitted to look into,” Parlatore said.

And Trump’s legal exposure isn’t just of the federal criminal variety. He still faces a

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