His Trial Is Halfway Over, and SBF May Be in Trouble

Observers say prosecutors keep scoring, as the defense struggles
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 17, 2023 2:17 PM CDT
Halfway Through His Trial, SBF May Be on the Ropes
FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried, center, listens as Caroline Ellison testifies in Manhattan federal court, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, in New York.   (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

The high-profile trial of former crypto superstar Sam Bankman-Friedman is halfway through its expected six-week duration—and an analysis at the Washington Post suggests SBF might be in serious trouble. "The case has turned out to be not only as strong as it was expected to be but, if anything, stronger," former federal prosecutor Samuel Buell tells Tory Newmyer of the Post. "Defense lawyers can't make strong evidence go away. I don't know where they go from here." Prosecutors are working their way through SBF's inner circle, most notably through Caroline Ellison, who was his on-and-off girlfriend and ran his Alameda Research hedge fund.

Ellison has pinned the blame for the financial malfeasance at Alameda and the trading platform FTX squarely on Bankman-Fried, and jurors even heard a recording of her doing so in an employee meeting as the two companies were falling apart, per Reuters. Making matters worse for SBF, his defense team "appeared to struggle to respond during their cross-examination" of Ellison, writes Newmyer, and did little to change anybody's thinking about what she said on the stand. A post at the Ringer agrees that the defense has "floundered" so far.

And that, writes Katie Baker, might increase the chances that the defense team will make the risky move of having SBF testify when it's their turn to call witnesses. "It's a long shot that testifying would help SBF—but long shots are what Bankman-Fried has always been all about," she writes. Newymer sees it as a potential "all-or-nothing gamble," and one that the defense feels it has no choice to make if things keep proceeding as they are. (More Sam Bankman-Fried stories.)

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