Sam Bankman-Fried Replaces Lawyers Ahead of Sentencing

Bankman-Fried replaced his former lawyers, Mark Cohen and Christian Everdale, as he’s headed into sentencing negotiations.

AccessTimeIconFeb 21, 2024 at 8:28 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 9, 2024 at 2:15 a.m. UTC
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  • Sam Bankman-Fried entered court in his first appearance since his conviction last fall on fraud and conspiracy charges, to confirm he was okay with his new attorneys. Mark Mukasey, his new lead counsel, also represents former Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky.
  • The convicted former crypto CEO said Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell, his trial attorneys, would be stepping down from his case.

Sam Bankman-Fried, in his first appearance in court after being found guilty of defrauding billions of dollars from FTX customers, said his trial attorneys would no longer represent him as he heads towards sentencing.

Instead, his newly hired lawyer, Marc Mukasey, will represent him over the next month. Bankman-Fried, who was found guilty on seven different counts of fraud and conspiracy last November, will be sentenced in late March.

Mukasey also represents bankrupt crypto lender Celsius founder Alex Mashinsky, who is accused by the Department of Justice of securities fraud, commodities fraud and conspiracy to manipulate the price of the company’s token CEL, among others. Mashinsky is set to go on trial this fall.

In a hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Wednesday, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who oversaw Bankman-Fried’s criminal trial in October, asked the former crypto billionaire a series of questions about potential conflicts and other issues arising from sharing lawyers with Mashinsky.

The conflict of interest comes from the fact that Celsius had worked with FTX and Alameda Research, before both companies went bankrupt.

Bankman-Fried was already represented by his new lawyer, and informed Judge Kaplan that he was no longer using Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell's services after Kaplan asked if they were "out of this now" at the start of the hearing.

Mashinsky also said he had no problems with his attorneys representing Bankman-Fried during a hearing on Tuesday.

First appearance

Bankman-Fried looked uneasy as he entered room 21B in the Manhattan courthouse on Wednesday afternoon, the same building where he was found guilty of several criminal charges that could put him behind bars for decades.

It could’ve been the way he was dressed – very differently from the suit and tie he wore for the duration of his trial in October, with the brown and beige prison jumpsuit he wore during his first few appearances after his bond was revoked last year. He also wore ankle cuffs, which made him appear to be limping as he walked into and out of the court room surrounded by guards.

Several other things changed from his previous days at SDNY. Unlike most days during his trial, Bankman-Fried did not walk into the room smiling at the gallery. Instead, he glanced around briefly before he sat down next to Mukasey and his co-counsel Torrey Young.

When both stepped away for a minute to greet familiar faces in the room, Bankman-Fried turned around, however, and looked at the gallery, which counted roughly a dozen observers. He smiled and nodded, as if to say "hello."

His parents, who had been in the courtroom nearly every day during his 8-week long trial in October, were not present on Tuesday.

UPDATE (Feb. 21, 2024, 20:45 UTC): Adds additional detail.

Edited by Nikhilesh De.

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Helene Braun

Helene is a New York-based reporter covering Wall Street, the rise of the spot bitcoin ETFs and crypto exchanges. She is also the co-host of CoinDesk's Markets Daily show. Helene is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program and has appeared on CBS News, YahooFinance and Nasdaq TradeTalks. She holds BTC and ETH.


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