Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried may not receive a maximum sentence, CNBC said on Nov. 4, citing statements from former government prosecutors.
Renato Mariotti, once a prosecutor within the U.S. Department of Justice, predicted that Bankman-Fried will spend 20 to 25 years in prison. Bankman-Fried’s maximum possible sentence, by contrast, has generally been placed at 110 to 115 years.
Mariotti implied that two decades is nevertheless a severe sentence. He noted that Bankman-Fried committed “immense” fraud through FTX and allegedly lied on the witness stand. Mariotti said that Judge Lewis Kaplan will likely have more sympathy for victims than Bankman-Fried when it comes time to impose a sentence.
In a statement to CNBC, Mariotti said:
“The federal sentencing guidelines will likely be sky high, but they are just that … the judge is required to consider all of the circumstances surrounding SBF and his offense.”
Another ex-prosecutor — former Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin J. O’Brien — provided a similar estimate. He suggested that Bankman-Fried’s sentence will likely be “in the 15 to 20-year range” as judges have discretion in sentencing. O’Brien also suggested that Bankman-Fried’s relatively young age could lead Judge Kaplan to give him a chance at life after prison. The former FTX CEO is 31 years old.
Those experts did not comment on other possible leniencies — such as the possibility that Bankman-Fried could serve part of his sentence under house arrest, or the possibility that the months that he has already spent in prison will be counted toward his sentence.
Others expect harsher sentence
Another legal expert suggested that Bankman-Fried could receive a much harsher sentence. Yesha Yadav, a law professor and Associate Dean at Vanderbilt University, said that Bankman-Fried’s sentence could be much closer to the 110-year maximum.
Yadav noted various factors that could extend the sentence, such as the number of customers harmed, the size of the fraud in dollar value, the severity of damage, and the fact that jurors reached a unanimous decision on Bankman-Fried’s guilt fairly quickly. He nevertheless admitted that Bankman-Fried’s youth, and the fact that the former executive’s crimes were not violent in nature, could reduce the sentence.
A separate report from Forbes cites Jared Carter, an Epner and Vermont Law School professor, as another legal expert who expects a lengthy sentence. Carter said that he will be surprised if Bankman-Fried receives less than 25 years in prison.
Bankman-Fried also faces a second trial concerning charges related to U.S. campaign financing and bribery of Chinese officials, possibly extending his sentence.
The former executive was found guilty on all seven current charges, primarily related to FTX’s fraud, on Nov. 2. He will receive his sentence on March 28, 2024.
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