29 March 2024

Not Long Enough

This is a very good description of the culture of impunity behind this.
The original tweet chain is here.
Crypto-Fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the orgy of fraud he conducted as head of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange.

I need to be clear here.  I do not think that his crimes were worse, or even as bad as a school shooter, and probably less bad than something like soon to be ex-Senator Bob Menendez' corruption, but a message needs to be sent about perceived class impunity.

At the core of the attitudes of SBF's parents (why are they not charged, they were knowing beneficiaries of the fraud) is the idea that, "People like them," should not be subject to the same scrutiny nor be subject to the same consequences, because they are just so f%$#ing special.

A federal judge sentenced Sam Bankman-Fried to 25 years in prison on Thursday. The already jailed founder of FTX just turned 32; if he serves 85 percent of his sentence, he’ll be free after 21 years, when he’s 53. Bankman-Fried is preparing to appeal his conviction last fall on seven fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering charges, but most everyone agrees that this effort is a long shot. His sentencing ends his time in the spotlight as America’s newsiest financial crook. (At least among convicted ones.)

Before imposing the sentence, Judge Lewis Kaplan dismissed the most potent arguments by Bankman-Fried’s defense team and made clear his anger at Bankman-Fried’s behavior leading up to and during his trial. Bankman-Fried’s lawyer spoke, and then Bankman-Fried did, too, focusing largely on the harm he’d caused to FTX’s employees who had staked their careers on him. He awkwardly alluded to an argument he has made since FTX collapsed, that customers could’ve gotten their money back if he’d been given more time to fix the situation instead of ceding control to a bankruptcy team. Prosecutors argued he still hadn’t accepted responsibility, and it looked like he hadn’t. Kaplan noted Bankman-Fried’s lack of remorse and habit of lies and evasions at his trial. Then the judge sent him away. It’s a stiff sentence, though Bankman-Fried may have thought it would be even longer given what the judge said about him before handing it down.

Bankman-Fried’s sentencing presented an odd situation. Ordinarily, an influential component of federal sentencing is a presentence report from the probation officers, who submit a recommendation to the judge alongside the requests of prosecutors and the defense. The presentence report for Bankman-Fried called for 100 years out of a maximum 110, a term his lawyers called “barbaric” and that even the prosecutors for the Southern District of New York found too aggressive. Bankman-Fried’s team asked the judge to sentence him to six and a half years or less. Prosecutors countered at between 40 and 50 years.


The whole argument about calculating loss might have been window dressing. The most obvious problem Bankman-Fried faced throughout his trial was the mountain of evidence and cooperative testimony against him. But next most obvious was his obnoxious behavior as a defendant, which prosecutors made sure to remind the judge of as they urged the stiffer sentence. (Not that Kaplan needed a reminder.) Kaplan sent Bankman-Fried to jail before the trial, revoking his bail, because Bankman-Fried had tampered with witnesses, prosecutors argued, and violated an agreement not to use a VPN. And indeed, Kaplan found that Bankman-Fried had attempted to tamper with witnesses.

That is yet another example of perceived impunity by SBF.

Basically, he thought that he was smarter and better than the mud people that he fleeced, and the mud people that were the prosecutor and the judge.

I do not know about smarter, but he certainly was not any better.


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