Sam Bankman-Fried is “able to face the music,” jail officer says

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Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced and indicted former cryptocurrency executive, is spending his days in a Bahamian jail watching movies and reading news articles about himself and holding out a glimmer of hope that he will be granted bail and leave soon according to a prison officer who regularly interacts with him.

Bankman-Fried may also soon decide to give up the fight against extradition and be taken to the US to face charges, the official said.

Days after his arrival at the jail known as Fox Hill, Bankman-Fried remains in “good spirits” in the facility’s infirmary, where he has been undergoing a medical exam for several days, and he has expressed confidence that his lawyers are convincing Becoming a judge to grant him bail after their initial attempt failed, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

But if the lawyers’ efforts failed, Bankman-Fried would then relinquish his right to fight extradition and return to the US to “face the music,” he told the official in a brief exchange Friday morning .

Reuters reported Saturday night that the former FTX executive is expected to appear in court on Monday for a hearing to reverse his decision to fight extradition.

The official described the young ex-billionaire as “a little cocky” but overall “a nice guy” who kept a low profile and seemed “terribly scared” during his first few days in prison. He wouldn’t laugh when the other men in the same room jokingly asked him how he managed to make so much money.

While watching a local TV report about himself earlier this week, Bankman-Fried asked the officer how he was feeling. He replied undeterred, “It’s okay, I’ll take care of it,” the officer recalled.

Bankman-Fried’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bankman-Fried’s life has taken a dramatic turn since his arrest. Until last week, he lived with his closest friends just a few miles away in a $30 million penthouse and ran one of the most well-known cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. While US regulators and prosecutors are pressing a slew of charges against him, his new address in a correctional facility notorious for its unsanitary conditions and severe overcrowding underscores his dramatic fall from grace.

Bankman-Fried says he was careless on FTX. The public prosecutor speaks of fraud.

While awaiting his new bail hearing on Jan. 17, there’s a chance the former FTX CEO might be moved out of the infirmary — which is significantly nicer than the rest of the facility and has amenities like air-conditioning and proper beds — in a prison cell without running water or even a toilet.

His extradition process, meanwhile, begins on February 8, but he could always choose to accept extradition and be expeditiously deported back to the United States by then.

Opened in 1952, Fox Hill, as it is commonly known, is the country’s only prison and has a long history of inmate complaints backed by expert witnesses and court documents. There is little or no access to running water, and prisoners are often forced to defecate in plastic bags or buckets. Many develop bedsores from sleeping on bare floors.

Bankman-Fried will remain in the high-security block’s infirmary with five other men while he undergoes a medical exam, according to Doan Cleare, acting commissioner of corrections in the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services.

Cleare declined to say where else he would be transferred to the facility or when that might happen, but added that his department is dealing with the complaints of poor conditions.

“This new administration is dealing with all matters of concern,” he told The Post on Saturday, adding that the department has made “tremendous strides in modernization” and will soon invest $1 million in sanitation at the detention center.

The facility has different departments that separate violent from non-violent offenders, but these populations are often haphazardly mixed because of understaffing or attempts to avoid fights between rival gangs, said Christina Galanos, a local criminal justice attorney. Defendants who have been charged but have not yet been brought to justice are usually held in the pre-trial detention facility, where Bankman-Fried would likely be transferred, she added.

But the prison official said Bankman-Fried could also be moved to a block inside the renovated high-security section. It houses inmates in solitary cells isolated from the rest of the population for security reasons.

In most areas of the prison, inmates are supposed to be outside for an hour each day to exercise. But due to staff shortages, overcrowding and an increasing number of gang fights, they can often stay for days, sometimes weeks, without being allowed outside, Galanos said.

The sleeping situation is not much better. Inmates often sleep on sheets laid out on cardboard on the floor, and many have complained of bedsores, hives and general body aches, said Galanos, who has regularly visited the prison and represented over 100 clients held there. Most facilities have no plumbing and no access to purified drinking water, she added.

A 2021 US State Department human rights report on the Bahamas found cells were also infested with rats, maggots and insects. The facility holds 1,617 inmates, although it was built to hold 1,000.

For Cary Allen Chappell, an American citizen who spent over two months in prison earlier this year after being charged with multiple gun and ammunition-related violations, the conditions are “inhuman,” he said in an interview.

For a time, Chappell recalled, he slept on concrete floors and spent four or five days eating nothing but bread and water. At one point he fell ill, but despite several requests to see a doctor, he was denied medical attention. During that time, he said, he lost 30 pounds.

The detention center, where Chappell shared a cell with four other inmates for 45 days, was little improvement. They would all urinate in a sink with no running water and then use their own jugs of drinking water to wash away their waste. Although Chappell had a mattress, it was infested with bed bugs, he added.

As he recalls, inmates were only allowed to stay in the yard for 20 to 30 minutes about three times a week, but that could vary depending on the department he was housed in. The isolation, lack of recreational activities, scarce natural light and overall deplorable conditions left him in an extreme mental state, he said.

“I was suicidal most of the time,” he said. “You just sat there all day and thought about the problems of your life.”

In a comment on the local Eyewitness News website, Commissioner Cleare said the crypto mogul would receive “no special treatment than any other inmate” while he remains in custody.

Galanos, the attorney, said it is rare for inmates to stay in the infirmary for more than a few days unless they have a “serious illness.” But given Bankman-Fried’s notoriety, authorities may decide to keep him there to separate him from the general population.

“Someone could hurt him, harass him or threaten him and if he ended up dead it would be a scandal,” Galanos added. “No one wants that.”

During his first bail hearing last Tuesday, Bankman-Fried’s attorneys argued that he should be released on bail because he has special vegan needs and has struggled with depression, insomnia and ADHD for more than a decade.

Cleare countered that a prison doctor would establish a diet plan for Bankman-Fried and that officials would reach out to his family to bring him food to accommodate his “strict, strict diet.”

In the meantime, the prison official said, Bankman-Fried is getting vegan food, a luxury few other inmates have.

For Valentino Bethel, a current Fox Hill inmate who last year filed a lawsuit against the Bahamas Department of Justice in the Supreme Court for violating his constitutional rights and “inhuman treatment,” there were no such options. He was held in a 6-by-9-foot cell with four other inmates without mattresses. The poor diet, including a lack of fruits and vegetables, caused him to lose more than 30 pounds, according to court documents.

“The cell lacks plumbing and running water for sanitation, there is no lighting in the infested cells. The roof is leaking, flooding the cells. Inmates are forced to urinate into a bottle and leave the bottles in a corner of the cell. Inmates empty themselves into plastic bags, which they put directly into a bucket or barter,” the claim argued.

Although prison regulations require inmates to exercise and shower daily, Bethel said inmates were given slots of just 15 to 20 minutes twice a week to choose between showering, exercising, or getting a haircut , according to the lawsuit.

The court dismissed the lawsuit earlier this year, arguing that Bethel skipped several lower-level tribunals and directed him to take his complaint to the Correctional Services Review.

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