Judge Lewis A. Kaplan has been assigned to Sam Bankman-Fried's case after the judge, Ronnie Abrams, originally looking at the FTX case rescued herself because her husband worked for a law firm that had done work for related to the now collapsed crypto exchange.
A judge since 1994, Kaplan is known for making swift decisions and a no-nonsense demeanour. He oversaw two civil lawsuits by former Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll who accused former US president Donald Trump of defaming her.
Kaplan also oversaw Virginia Giuffre's civil lawsuit accusing Prince Andrew of sexually abusing her when she was 17 at Ghislaine Maxwell's London home.
Senior Status in Manhattan Federal Court
The 78-year-old judge held a senior status in the Manhattan Federal Court for over a decade. He was nominated to the bench by President Bill Clinton in 1994. Kaplan has had his fair share of high-profile cases, including several cases in the financial world. He oversaw what authorities had described as the first federal Bitcoin securities fraud prosecution and sentenced the defendant to 18 months in prison.
Kaplan blocked US courts in 2014 from being used to collect $9 billion Ecuadorian judgement against Chevron for rainforest damage. He also sentenced Osama bin Laden's son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith to life in prison for serving as Al-Qaida's mouthpiece following the September 11 terror attacks. Back in 2012, he delayed a guilty plea by a Utah banker and ordered prosecutors to explain why they want the banker to plead guilty to a misdemeanour bank gambling charge rather than a felony.
Moreover, the judge saw the trial of Kevin Spacey, wherein the judgement was awarded in favour of him.
FTX Case – Fraud of Epic Proportions
Prosecutors have called Sam Bankman-Fried and the FTX collapse a fraud of epic proportions. But SBF said it was just risk-management failures at the crypto exchange and believes he is not criminally liable.
The US Department of Justice accused Bankman-Fried of causing billions of dollars of losses related to FTX, including by using customer funds to support the Alameda Research crypto trading platform. Currently, SBF has been released on a $250 million bond and remains under detention at his parents' home in California.