A federal judge has sided with the United States Department of Justice in motions aimed at precluding the testimony of seven witnesses on behalf of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, or SBF.
In a Sept. 21 filing with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Lewis Kaplan granted in limine motions from prosecutors that would bar certain witnesses from testifying in SBF’s criminal trial. Kaplan provided different legal grounds for granting the DOJ’s motions against certain witnesses, which included the proposed testimony being “not at all clear,” irrelevant to the trial, or would otherwise seemingly obfuscate the facts of the case for the jury.
The witnesses at issue in the criminal case included Thomas Bishop, Brian Kim, Bradley Smith, Lawrence Akka, Joseph Pimbley, Peter Vinella and Andrew Di Wu, many of whom are professionals in the legal field. Court filings from Aug. 28 suggested that SBF’s legal team could have paid upward of $1,200 per hour for their testimony.
Kaplan left the door open for SBF’s defense team to call some of the individuals in response to testimony from witnesses for the U.S. government. However, he denied a motion from Bankman-Fried’s lawyers, which could have excluded testimony from Peter Easton, a University of Notre Dame accountancy professor who will speak on FTX customer fiat accounts.
Bankman-Fried is scheduled to appear before Kaplan for his first criminal trial on Oct. 3, where he will face seven criminal charges related to the alleged misuse of user funds at FTX and Alameda Research. He will face another five criminal charges in a March 2024 trial. SBF has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
Since a federal judge revoked his bail in August, SBF has been largely remanded to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn until the start of his trial. On Sept. 21, a three-judge panel denied an appeal from the former FTX CEO’s legal team arguing for early release largely on First Amendment grounds.