If you’ve followed the recent fraud and conspiracy trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, you may be wondering how many years in prison he could receive as a sentence for his white-collar crime conviction.
The answer is up to 110 years in prison, or what essentially would be a life sentence in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for March 28, 2024.
A second trial involving 5 more charges, including bribery and bank fraud, is set for March 11, 2024.
Bankman-Fried, 31, has already been spending time in jail. After his arrest in December of 2022, he was initially out of jail on a $250 million bail package, which required him to remain at his parents’ house in Palo Alto, California.
But he went to jail in August of 2023 after a judge sided with a request by federal prosecutors to revoke his bail over alleged witness tampering. He remained in custody leading up to his criminal trial, which started on October 3, 2023.
At trial, Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty to all counts. But on November 2, 2023, he was convicted of all 7 charges in a Manhattan federal courtroom.
After 4 weeks at trial, the jury’s verdict in United States v. Bankman-Fried came after only 4 hours of deliberation.
In a statement, defense attorney Mark Cohen said Bankman-Fried “maintains his innocence and will continue to vigorously fight the charges against him. We respect the jury’s decision. But we are very disappointed with the result.”
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said the guilty verdict sends a message “to every single fraudster out there who thinks that they’re untouchable. Those folks should think again.”
Charges against Bankman-Fried included fraud, conspiracy, money-laundering
According to ABC News, Bankman-Fried’s 7 charges involved fraud, conspiracy and money laundering for what federal prosecutors called “one of the biggest financial frauds in American history.” The fraud charges included securities fraud, commodities fraud and wire fraud. There were also charges for campaign finance law violations.
Such charges followed the sudden collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which Bankman-Fried co-founded.
FTX went bankrupt in 2022, as did its affiliated hedge fund, Alameda Research. Yet FTX had been one of the largest such exchanges in the world, with billions of dollars in deposits. In fact, Bankman-Fried was once ranked by Forbes 400 as the 41st richest person in America.
But FTX made a rapid fall, going from a value of $32 billion at its peak to bankruptcy in a short span of time.
Prosecutors asserted that Bankman-Fried had undertaken various schemes to defraud investors. They claimed that he used customer deposits on the crypto trading platform FTX to cover losses at his hedge fund, pay off loans and buy lavish real estate, among other personal expenses.
He was also accused of making illegal political donations toward the 2022 elections.
Gary Wang, who co-founded FTX with Bankman-Fried, admitted in testimony to committing securities fraud, wire fraud and commodities fraud. His testimony was part of a plea deal agreement with prosecutors after he pleaded guilty to fraud charges.
Also testifying in Bankman-Fried’s trial as part of a plea deal agreement was Caroline Ellison, Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend and former co-chief executive of the Alameda Research hedge fund. She, too, had previously pleaded guilty to criminal charges, then opted to cooperate with the government as a witness in Bankman-Fried’s trial.
White-collar crimes are serious offenses
Though white-collar crimes are non-violent crimes involving theft or fraud, they are still serious crimes that can have severe consequences for those who are convicted. Clearly, that is the case for Bankman-Fried, considering the potential 110-year prison sentence that he faces.
Not only are white-collar crimes serious, but in recent years, the federal government has been cracking down on white-collar crime offenders, particularly in the realms of cybercrime and fraud.
Such crimes can involve violations of state laws as well as federal laws. In Texas, white-collar crime laws specify the crime of theft when it comes to embezzlement or other forms of fraud.
Earlier this year in Houston, a Houston woman was convicted of aiding and assisting in preparing false tax returns and was sentenced to 12 years in prison, followed by a year of probation, also known as supervised release. She was also ordered to pay more than $71,000 in restitution, or compensatory payments, to make up for others’ losses.
Also, in Houston earlier this year, 3 persons were charged with Medicaid fraud for their alleged part in an almost $7 million kickback scheme involving a local dental clinic.
The Houston area, in fact, is one of the chief locales that federal authorities are monitoring for possible cases of healthcare fraud. Many Houston area residents depend on federal healthcare programs, and these can involve large claims for reimbursement. When those claims are not valid, healthcare fraud has occurred.
What are other types or kinds of white-collar crimes?
Other kinds or types of white-collar crimes can include:
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud
- Wire and mail fraud
- Bank/mortgage fraud
- Identity theft
- Antitrust violations
- Intellectual property theft
- Compounding pharmacy fraud
- Securities fraud
Get an experienced Houston fraud or theft defense lawyer
If you or someone in your family faces an accusation or charge of fraud, theft or some other white-collar crime, you must take this seriously and engage the best defense lawyer you can find to stand up for your legal rights in a white-collar crime case. Otherwise, you may risk being convicted and sentenced to years in prison.
Houston’s Neal Davis Law Firm has won awards and professional recognition for its work defending the legal rights of those who have been accused of white-collar crimes.
Not everyone who’s been accused of such crimes is guilty, and everyone deserves their day in court, where they must be considered innocent until proven guilty, as provided by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Whether you live in Houston or elsewhere in Harris County, Fort Bend County or Montgomery County, rest assured that you can find legal help to protect your rights in a case involving fraud, theft or other white-collar crimes.
Contact us today to arrange a confidential consultation for your white-collar crime case. Your future and your freedom may depend on it.