FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty last week by a jury of peers in just a few short hours, but the fallen crypto king's saga is far from over.
So what could be next for Sam Bankman-Fried? FOX Business spoke with former Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin J. O'Brien about what to expect.
For starters, Bankman-Fried remains incarcerated after having his $250 million bail revoked ahead of his trial for allegedly tampering with witnesses who were set to testify against him. Now that the trial is over, the former CEO's defense team may try to get him released from jail until his March 28, 2024, sentencing date.
O'Brien says it is likely Bankman-Fried will remain behind bars until that time, telling FOX Business, "I don't think they're going to let him out."
He explained that in an ordinary case, if someone is not already in jail when convicted in a criminal trial, they will be put behind bars to await trial unless there is a significant issue on appeal – which O'Brien does not believe Bankman-Fried has.
The attorney, who specializes in white-collar criminal defense in New York City, said Bankman-Fried's lawyers do have one argument for getting their client released, which is that the reason for having him behind bars in the first place was not that he was a flight risk but that he was allegedly tampering with potential witnesses. With the conviction, that reasoning is no longer applicable.
However, with Bankman-Fried facing a second trial starting the same month as his sentencing, it is most likely the judge overseeing the trial, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, will not allow him to make bail based on the same rationale that was used to incarcerate him in the first place.
Bankman-Fried's defense team may try to appeal the verdict, but O'Brien does not believe such an effort would be successful.
"I don't think there's a compelling issue on appeal that's going to be on the horizon here," he said.
O'Brien said he could not point to anything that happened during the trial "that would create a significant material issue on appeal that would justify reversal and remand or dismissal, depending on the argument."
"I just don't see it," he added. "There were no controversy or calls by the court."
The convictions on seven charges for fraud, conspiracy and money laundering carry a combined maximum sentence of 110 years, but that is only the statutory limit, and sentencing guidelines may call for far less than that.
Still, Bankman-Fried is "facing a huge sentence, maybe 30 to 40 years," according to O'Brien, because of the dollar loss to the victims, which the government says is in the billions.
However, O'Brien says he does not think the sentence Kaplan eventually hands down will even come close to that.
The attorney explained that with Bankman-Fried being young at 31 years old, a sentence of 30 years or more would essentially ruin his whole life.
"I think Kaplan is going to want to give him an opportunity to start over and redeem himself, so to speak," O'Brien said. "He has a lot to offer society, and he's going to give him that chance to have a full career."
O'Brien expects Bankman-Fried to receive a sentence in "the teens" or possibly lower, saying he would not be surprised if the ex-CEO received a sentence comparable to 39-year-old Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, who is currently serving 11.25 years for her own fraud conviction.
The FTX founder, who capitalized on a rise in bitcoin and at one point accumulated an estimated $26 billion, is also expected to be ordered to pay restitution.
While it is likely Bankman-Fried will be incarcerated for several years for his crimes, unlike Holmes, he probably will not be spending that time in a lower-level security prison camp. O'Brien says there aren't many of those camps for men, and they are now nearly impossible to get into, so Bankman-Fried would essentially need to "get in line."
But wherever Bankman-Fried ends up serving time, he will likely have opportunities to work behind bars and contribute to society both during and after his imprisonment. And there's always the chance that Bankman-Fried redeems himself, O'Brien noted.
"Look at Michael Milken," he said, pointing to the financier who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and served only two after pleading guilty to securities fraud in 1990.
"He reinvented himself," O'Brien said of Milken. "He went from being a junk bond king to a major philanthropist, and he's very, very, very, very smart – just like Bankman-Fried."