In a strikingly rapid decision last Friday, the jury has found Sam Bankman-Fried guilty, a verdict that may result in a decades-long prison sentence. On Unchained, former SDNY prosecutor Rich Cooper and defense lawyer Sam Enzer unpacked the factors leading to this swift jury decision and the challenging path ahead for Bankman-Fried’s defense.

According to Cooper, the jury was presented with a clear-cut case of unreliability in Bankman-Fried’s testimony during cross-examination. “I think as a devastating piece of evidence after devastating piece of evidence came in, it couldn’t help but affect the juror,” he said.

Both Cooper and Enzer pointed out that the promptness of the jury’s decision reflects the compelling nature of the evidence against Bankman-Fried, suggesting a strong case by the prosecution. This swift decision could indicate a challenging road ahead for the defense, especially in potential appeals.

The possibility of an appeal remains, with Enzer noting, “The strongest argument for SBF’s appeal relate to limitations on the defense’s ability to offer a presence of counsel defense, and the prejudice to Sam Bankman-Fried from the mini-hearing that the judge imposed on the defendant before his direct and cross.”

In terms of sentencing, Cooper and Enzer suggested that Bankman-Fried could face a sentence akin to those seen in significant white-collar crimes, possibly spanning over 20 years. The extent of this sentence will be clarified in the upcoming months, as the case proceeds to the sentencing phase, which will occur on March 28, 2024.

The conversation also veered into the prospect of the government pursuing a second trial on other charges. Enzer, with a tone of skepticism towards the necessity of such action, expressed his hopes against it. “It’s sort of like piling on,” he said. Despite the conviction on seven charges with a cumulatively massive potential sentence, Enzer questioned the value of additional judicial proceedings. “Do we really need to spend judicial resources, taxpayer resources, government resources…when the government already has more than enough to punish Bankman-Fried for what he did?”

He argued that since sentencing can consider uncharged conduct, the evidence from the potential campaign finance crimes could influence Bankman-Fried’s sentence without the need for a separate trial.