Sam Bankman-Fried’s final hours in court: Gasps, somberness, and despair

After 30 minutes of deliberation on Thursday, the jury the trial of Sam Bankman-Friedthe former CEO of crypto exchange FTX, sent the court a note around 3:45 p.m.: “We want cars,” it read, referring to free taxis home for jurors if their discussions lasted until late In the evening.

Reporters at the courthouse had already whispered among themselves that the jury might return the next morning and would not deliberate until 8 p.m. that evening, given the complexity of the charges against Bankman-Friedthat the Justice Department accused seven counts of fraud and money laundering. However, the jurors’ decision to stay late – and dine at government expense – was the first indication that they might reach a verdict in one of the most high-profile financial fraud cases in recent history .

As the sun shone through the windows overlooking the East River, the 26th floor courtroom — except for a few members of the press — was empty. Day turned to night and around 7:40 p.m. Andrew Mohan, deputy registrar of the court, announced that the jury had reached a verdict.

There was an audible gasp. Journalists flocked to the room. And then came Bankman-Fried’s parents, Joe Bankman and Barbara Fried, sitting in the third row just behind the rapidly drawing court artists, their same perch throughout their eldest son’s month-long trial. Bankman’s arm snaked around his wife’s shoulders and they both looked intently toward the front of the courtroom.

Shortly after Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, took his front row seat, Judge Lewis Kaplan, who was presiding over the case, took his seat on his bench. The jury introduced themselves and Bankman-Fried stood and faced the 12 jurors, a shock of hair sticking out of his head and his oversized suit sagging on his shoulders.

The president read the verdict. Guilty of wire fraud. Guilty of wire fraud conspiracy. And guilty of five other counts, including defrauding lenders and investors, and money laundering.

Bankman sat with his head between his legs, his hands clutching his face in obvious desperation. Fried sat face down, her hands covering her eyes and putting thick black glasses on her forehead. The audience sat in silence while Marc Cohen, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, asked the judge to question each juror about his verdict. Everyone confirmed their verdict: guilty.

“With this, you are free,” Kaplan told the jury after asking them to speak publicly about the case. They walked out of the courtroom and Bankman and Fried were huddled together, just feet away from their once-billionaire son.

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