Lawyers for FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried have pushed back against the harsh sentencing recommendations submitted by US prosecutors last week.

The government recommended that Bankman-Fried be sentenced to a minimum of 40 to 50 years in prison in their letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan last Friday, emphasizing that the scale of his crimes warrant severe punishment under federal sentencing guidelines.  

Bankman-Fried’s legal counsel filed their own letter to Kaplan on Tuesday, calling the government’s proposed sentence “disturbing,” saying that prosecutors had adopted a medieval view of punishment to reach what amounts to a death-in-prison sentencing recommendation.

“With marked hostility, the memorandum distorts reality to support its precious “loss” narrative and casts Sam as a depraved super-villain,” said the lawyers. 

They further highlighted that the FTX bankruptcy proceedings would likely result in the exchange’s customers and lenders being made whole.

“The truth is, there were never losses. The money has always been available. Assets remain. Each victim quoted in the government’s opposition will receive 100 cents on the dollar — plus interest,” they said. 

The lawyers, instead, urged the judge to consider a much shorter sentence for Bankman-Fried of between five to six years that would fit within the “proper guidelines” for the nature of his crimes. 

A jury found Bankman-Fried guilty on seven counts related to fraud and conspiracy on Nov. 2, 2023, with his sentencing hearing scheduled for March 28. That hearing will likely go ahead as planned, with prosecutors opting to drop a second trial that would likely see Bankman-Fried convicted on additional charges in aid of a prompt resolution of the matter. 

Speaking to Laura Shin in a November episode of Unchained, former prosecutor Rich Cooper and defense lawyer Sam Enzer explained why Bankman-Fried would likely spend decades behind bars.