FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried “has been under house arrest at his parents’ home on the Stanford campus since December,” writes the Washington Post, “making the elite university the unlikely host to one of America’s most notorious alleged white-collar criminals.
“Surrounded by student co-ops, fraternity houses and other faculty homes, he’s the talk of the neighborhood.”
Bankman-Fried, the son of two Stanford law professors, was released on a $250 million bond secured by the Craftsman-style house. While awaiting his fraud trial later this year, Bankman-Fried wears an ankle bracelet to track his movements and plays with his new dog, Sandor, according to a Puck News report…. It remains to be seen what consequences Bankman-Fried, who pleaded “not guilty,” might face. So far, his ability to be detained at home, instead of held in prison, is an exception to how most federal defendants are treated. The quiet, traffic-light Stanford neighborhood is quite the upgrade from Fox Hill, a notoriously rough prison in the Bahamas where Bankman-Fried was briefly held before being extradited.
If Bankman-Fried violates the terms of his bail agreement, his parents could lose their house, which they’ve owned since 1991 and is worth over $3.5 million, according to public property records….
The U.S. government has tried to restrict his access to virtual private networks and certain apps where messages disappear, but a final ruling has not been made. The judge presiding over his case asked in a hearing last month, “Why am I being asked to turn him loose in this garden of electronic devices?,” highlighting that despite any restrictions the court might place on Bankman-Fried’s use of technology, he remains in a home with his parents who also have a plethora of ways to be wired. On Friday, prosecutors proposed limiting Bankman-Fried to a flip-phone or “non-smartphone” that cannot access the internet, and that he be issued a new laptop “with limited functionalities.” Prosecutors also want to place strict limits and monitoring tools on his parents’ devices.
But meanwhile, among the student population, “There are party fliers with his likeness. He’s a punchline in campus comedy sketches. Students ride their bikes by on dates…. When asked whether they could confirm a rumor that a nearby student co-op had attacked the Bankman-Fried home with eggs, Stanford campus police did not respond.”
And one freshman/cryptocurrency enthusiast even stole a sign from in front of Bankman-Fried’s house, then “paraded it around for selfies at a cryptocurrency networking event. The sign is currently growing mold in his dorm-room closet.”
Bankman-Fried, who grew up on campus, “certainly fits into what I regard as the kind of culture of Stanford,” says Richard White, a retired Stanford history professor — even if the 30-year-old former billionaire left Silicon Valley to attend MIT. White and others characterize Stanford’s culture as a place where faculty and students are emboldened to take big risks in conceiving the next hot start-up or breakthrough innovation, often with easy access to capital, the conviction that they’re changing the world — and few consequences if things go south.
“Through his spokesman Mark Botnick, Bankman-Fried declined to comment for this article….”
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