‘A Waste of Time:’ Sam Bankman-Fried Trial Judge Snaps at Lawyers for Bringing in Useless Witnesses

Sam Bankman-Fried and guards
Michael M. Santiago /Getty

Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is presiding over the court case against disgraced former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried,  snapped at lawyers on both sides on Wednesday for bringing in witnesses that have little to add to the case.

“We have 18 people devoting time here to this case, and it’s really a crime, that part of it. Obviously, it’s a serious case. Obviously, there are all kinds of important things to be determined. But lawyers are supposed to do a little better than this. I am talking to both sides,” Kaplan said about the jury.

Sam Bankman-Fried

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (second on left) is led away in handcuffs by officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force in Nassau, Bahamas, on December 13, 2022. (MARIO DUNCANSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Sam Bankman-Fried leaves the courthouse

Sam Bankman-Fried leaves the courthouse (Michael M. Santiago/Getty)

Kaplan’s heated comments came after two witnesses were excused after 45 minutes each, which included direct and cross-examination. Both witnesses did not provide much new information.

Eliora Katz, the former in-house lobbyist for FTX US, the American wing of the digital currency platform, said that most of the evidence shown to her had been published before her time at the company, which was between April and November of 2022.

Kaplan said, “She was called essentially as a mannequin to read to the jury documents in evidence and the transcripts of videotapes in evidence, and that was a waste of her time, it was a waste of the jury’s time, and it was a waste of everybody else’s time. I expect different behavior from counsel.”

Cory Gaddis, a records custodian at Google, flew from Texas to New York for the court case. Despite the long travel, he was unable to answer questions about specific document metadata.

“And then we are treated to this Mr. Gaddis being hauled up here from Texas to authenticate metadata on, I believe it was five documents, maybe it’s seven or eight, as to which there was no dispute at all to get them into evidence,” the judge said.

“We’re not going to do this again,” he exclaimed. He said that there was “fault on both sides.”

Prosecutors did, however, have one productive witness on Wednesday.

Peter Easton, a University of Notre Dame accounting professor, said that the FTX had spent customer deposits. The Justice Department hired Easton to help trace billions of dollars of Alameda Research and FTX funds.

Bankman-Fried stands accused of seven counts of fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering on his alleged use of FTX customer funds to cover the losses of his hedge fund, Alameda Research. He also allegedly used those funds to purchase real estate and cover other personal expenses. Bankman-Fried pled not guilty to all counts and faces up to 110 years in prison.

Kaplan is known for his no-nonsense approach in the courtroom. He had snapped at Bankman-Fried’s lawyers only three days into the trial for often repeating questions to the witnesses.

Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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