A judge is asking former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried to attend a hearing next week after federal prosecutors accused him of leaking the personal writings of his former girlfriend and business partner, Caroline Ellison, to The New York Times.
U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan also instructed the parties to prepare to review the terms of Bankman-Fried’s bail, court records show.
Federal prosecutors have charged Bankman-Fried with witness tampering after he allegedly leaked Ellison’s personal writings. In a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan on Thursday, prosecutors accused Bankman-Fried of giving Ellison’s writings to The New York Times to “interfere with a fair trial by an impartial jury.”
In an article published Thursday titled “Inside the Private Writings of Caroline Ellison, Star Witness in the FTX Case,” the New York Times published private journal entries that Ellison wrote in Google Docs. They reportedly detailed his “unhappy and overwhelmed” emotional state as CEO of Alameda Research, FTX’s crypto hedge fund. The writings also reportedly expressed his doubts about his ability to make decisions and run the business effectively.
In December, Ellison pleaded guilty to multiple counts of conspiracy and fraud for his role in a scheme that led to the collapse of FTX. Prosecutors say she is expected to serve as a witness in their criminal case against Bankman-Fried, who pleaded not guilty to eight federal counts of fraud and conspiracy.
In the letter to Kaplan, prosecutors said they learned earlier in the week that an article was forthcoming and alleged Bankman-Fried’s lawyers confirmed he sat down with the newspaper and handed over documents that were not part of the discovery documents.
“By selectively sharing certain private documents with The New York Times, the defendant is attempting to discredit a witness, cast Ellison in a bad light, and advance his defense through the press and outside the constraints of the courtroom and the rules of evidence: that Ellison was a rejected lover who perpetrated these crimes alone,” wrote U.S. Attorney Damian Williams on behalf of the prosecutors who brought the case against Bankman-Fried.
He added, “While the government expects the overwhelming evidence to disprove this defence, it is prejudicial and improper for the defendant to disparage Ellison’s credibility pre-trial, particularly with material that the defense has not established is admissible at trial, let alone presented to the government.”
Prosecutors are seeking to limit Bankman-Fried’s ability to make public statements for fear he could sway the jury panel and have a chilling effect on witnesses.
“In addition to tainting the jury, the effect, if not the intent, of the defendant’s conduct is not only to harass Ellison, but also to deter other potential trial witnesses from testifying,” Williams wrote.
A Bankman-Fried representative declined to comment. A New York Times spokesperson and an attorney representing Ellison did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
— CNN’s Kara Scannell contributed to this report.