Sam Bankman-Fried’s legal team is asking a U.S. district court judge to grant the former FTX CEO “uninterrupted access” to his daily prescribed medication while he is in jail. That includes Adderall for treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
“For over five years Mr. Bankman-Fried has been prescribed Emsam 9mg/24 hrs transdermal patch for the treatment of depression,” Bankman-Fried’s attorney, Mark Cohen, wrote in a letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan on Monday. “And for the past three years, Mr. Bankman-Fried has been prescribed Adderall 10mg tablets, 3-4x/day for the treatment of ADHD.”
Kaplan approved the motion later in the day.
On Friday, Kaplan sided with a request by federal prosecutors to revoke Bankman-Fried’s bail over alleged witness tampering. Bankman-Fried was remanded to custody directly from a court hearing in New York and sent to Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, or MDC, according to Bureau of Prisons records.
Unless an appeal filed by the defendant’s legal team is successful, Bankman-Fried is expected to remain in custody until his criminal trial, which is due to begin Oct. 2. He faces charges for allegedly conspiring to defraud investors and customers out of billions of dollars in a scheme that led to the collapse of FTX and sent shockwaves throughout the crypto industry. He pleaded not guilty.
The latest request from Bankman-Fried’s lawyers includes a letter from his psychiatrist, George Lerner, who has been treating the former FTX CEO since February 2019.
“Mr. Bankman-Fried has a history of Major Depressive Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” Lerner wrote.
ADHD is among the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in children. Bankman-Fried told a Bahamas judge in December that he took medication to treat depression and ADHD.
Lerner added in his letter that Bankman-Fried had tried other antidepressants but said they were ineffective for his symptoms.
“Additionally, there have been times when Mr. Bankman-Fried did not have access to the Emsam patch (typically when travelling/abroad) and exhibited symptoms of depression, including lethargy, anhedonia, low motivation, and increased ruminations,” Lerner wrote.
Without his medication, Lerner warned the judge, “Bankman-Fried will experience a return of his depression and ADHD symptoms and will be severely negatively impacted in his ability to assist in his own defense.”
Cohen said Bankman-Fried was only able to bring a “small supply” of his daily medication when he was remanded to custody on Friday — a supply apparently only sufficient to last him a few days.
“We respectfully ask that the Court promptly enter an order directing MDC to ensure that our client has continuous access to the specific medications and dosages that are described in Dr. Lerner’s letter,” wrote Cohen.
For nearly a year, there’s been a nationwide shortage of Adderall, the popular stimulant used to treat ADHD. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has called on drug manufacturers to up production.
Bankman-Fried was sent to jail over his decision to leak private diary entries by his ex-girlfriend, Caroline Ellison, to The New York Times. In many of her personal writings, Ellison expressed self-doubt and feelings of stress in her role as the former head of Bankman-Fried’s failed crypto hedge fund, Alameda Research.
“I have been feeling pretty unhappy and overwhelmed with my job,” she wrote in an entry dated February 2022. “At the end of the day I can’t wait to go home and turn off my phone and have a drink and get away from it all.”
Ellison, who pleaded guilty to federal charges in December 2022, has been cooperating with the government and is expected to be a star witness for the prosecution.
During his 33-minute ruling Friday, Kaplan said probable cause for witness tampering had been met by the prosecution, adding that Bankman-Fried’s contribution to the Ellison story was designed to “hurt” and “discredit” a witness.
The prosecution described the effort by Bankman-Fried as a “means of indirect witness intimidation through the press.”
The government has requested that Bankman-Fried be remanded to a jail in Putnam, New York, where he would have access to a laptop with internet access for defense preparation, rather than staying at MDC, which is the facility closest to the courthouse but has limited web access for prisoners.
— CNBC’s Dan Mangan contributed to this report.