No-nonsense judge takes over FTX-Bankman-Fried criminal case

U.S. Court News

A Manhattan federal judge known for swift decisions and a no-nonsense demeanor during three decades of overseeing numerous high-profile cases was assigned Tuesday to Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency case.

The case was relegated to Judge Lewis A. Kaplan after the judge originally assigned recused herself because her husband worked for a law firm that had done work related to Bankman-Fried’s collapsed crypto exchange FTX.

Bankman-Fried, arrested in the Bahamas two weeks ago, was brought to the United States last week to face charges that he cheated investors and looted customer deposits on his FTX trading platform.

On Thursday, he was freed on a $250 million personal recognizance bond to live with his parents in Palo Alto, California, after an electronic monitoring bracelet was attached to him so authorities could track his whereabouts.

Kaplan, 78, who has held senior status in Manhattan federal court for over a decade, was nominated to the bench by President Bill Clinton in 1994.
Since then, he has overseen numerous high-profile trials and several cases notable in the financial world, including what authorities had described as the first federal bitcoin securities fraud prosecution. Kaplan sentenced the defendant to 18 months in prison.

n 2014, he blocked U.S. courts from being used to collect a $9 billion Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron for rainforest damage, saying lawyers in the case had poisoned an honorable quest with illegal and wrongful conduct.

And in 2012, he delayed his acceptance of a guilty plea by a Utah banker, ordering prosecutors to explain in writing why they were letting the banker plead guilty to a misdemeanor bank gambling charge rather than a felony.


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