The lawyer responsible for Sam Bankman-Fried’s criminal trial defense has admitted that the case was “almost impossible” to win from the outset.
In a one-on-one interview with Bloomberg, Stanford Law School professor David Mills recounts how Bankman-Fried’s reluctance to follow his recommendations, as well as the damning testimony of his former associates, had the FTX founder’s back against the ropes.
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“I thought it was almost impossible to win a case when three or four founders are all saying you did it,” Mills told the publication.
“Even if they’re all lying through their teeth, it’s really, really hard to win a case like that.”
The report also outlines how Mills recommended that SBF’s legal defense should have admitted to the allegations of witnesses and the state prosecution and tried to convince the presiding jury that Bankman-Fried intended to save the company from bankruptcy.
“I thought there was a really good story there. But he can’t tell the story that all these people are lying. You got five people who say one thing, one person says another thing. Well, you’ve got no shot, zero,” Mills said.
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The experienced criminal lawyer, businessman and academic also described Bankman-Fried “as the worst person I’ve ever seen do a cross-examination”, as the former FTX CEO unsuccessfully tried to refute making several damning statements that eventually saw him found guilty of all seven charges.
Mills also revealed that he had agreed to lend his expertise to Bankman-Fried’s defense at the behest of the FTX CEO’s parents. Mills is understood to be close friends with Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried and took on the case free of charge, adding that his friendship and love for criminal law were driving factors behind his involvement.
Meanwhile, the outcome of the case and the to-be-determined length of Bankman-Fried’s incarceration may have been too close to home, as Mills admitted that he would not take on cases involving close relationships:
“I’m not going to get myself emotionally involved on a very deep personal level in a case like this again.”
Bankman-Fried was found guilty of two counts of wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud conspiracy, one count of securities fraud, one count of commodities fraud conspiracy and one count of money laundering conspiracy.
The 31-year-old is set to be sentenced on March 28, 2024, by New York District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presided over the high-profile case. Kaplan will have the final say over the duration of Bankman-Fried’s sentence, while government prosecutors will put forward recommendations.
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