Sam Bankman-Fried is sentenced to 25 years — but now what?

While some celebrated the 25-year sentence handed down to multi-billion dollar fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried, others suggested it was too harsh a punishment for a non-violent first-time offender.

Whatever your view, it’s safe to say there was a collective sigh of relief from almost everyone involved when the crypto trial of the century came to a close.

However, the sentence comes with some caveats and opportunities and it’s worth diving into exactly what we can expect to happen next.


SBF has already made it clear that he doesn’t only believe the appeals process will grant him his freedom — he’s willing to stake his comfort and safety on it. As pointed out by Protos contributor David Z. Morris on X (formerly Twitter), SBF put forward a request to stay at New York’s infamous Metropolitan Detention Center to be closer to his legal team rather than being transferred to a prison to be nearer to his parents in California.

The strategy is a bold one: less than 9% of appeals succeed in federal court, according to the Federal Judiciary. But that won’t dissuade Bankman-Fried.

A lawyer familiar with the case said, “There’s zero percent chance of success [on this appeal],” adding, “There was nothing off about his trial, his sentence was a downward departure.”

In regards to what the appeals team hopes to present, the lawyer said that the legal team was likely to hone in on internet restrictions not allowing for appropriate time to prepare pre-trial, but “that will be rejected.”

Adding to the likelihood of this rejection is SBF having his bail revoked, providing journal entries of Caroline Ellison to members of the media, and having his internet access increased while behind bars.

Appellate courts almost never overturn jury verdicts,” they said.

Read more: SBF is target for assault and extortion in prison claims fellow inmate

After initial appeals

There’s little legal wiggle room for SBF. He may present specific arguments in the coming years, but the odds of any of them being legally viable are extraordinarily low.

In the meantime, it’s worth pointing out that Bankman-Fried has already spent nearly a year behind bars — time that will be credited to him, taking about nine months off his 25-year sentence. Outside of this, as referenced by CNN, he’s likely to serve only half the time he’s convicted of behind bars. The rest will most probably be served in either a halfway house or the home of a relative.

As many following the case understood prior to sentencing, violent federal criminals are unable to take more than 15% off of their sentence for good behavior, however, a law passed in 2018 by Donald Trump — called the First Step Act — allows nonviolent federal offenders to get released after half of their sentence has been served.

It’s more than likely that SBF qualifies for this.

But then what for Bankman-Fried?

It’s fair to say that any amount of time in a federal penitentiary is tough but SBF is looking at over a decade in a medium-security prison — and that’s if he doesn’t do inappropriate interviews with the media, sneak electronics into his cell, and otherwise behave erratically.

Regardless, once Bankman-Fried does leave the confines of a medium-security prison for the confines of his parents’ Stanford home, he’s still on the hook for the $11 billion that’s owed to customers, creditors, and investors from FTX. His bank accounts, electronic devices, and future plans are sure to be monitored routinely by federal agents, many looking for any opportunity to catch him breaking the rules of his allotted time outside prison.

There is always the possibility of a redemption arc. Take the examples of Jordan Belfort and Michael Milkin, two criminal fraudsters who have both been quite successful since their respective releases from prison.

Read more: First prison photo of ‘gangster’ Sam Bankman-Fried revealed

Of course, there’s little doubt that there will be some appetite for speaking appearances, book contracts, and consulting in some capacity for SBF when he leaves prison. The real question is whether every cent he earns (outside of basic living expenses) will be clawed back for those he hurt and if the SBF story will still be as toxic and hard to swallow as a decade previous, especially for those in the finance and cryptocurrency industries.

Justice is difficult to define, but for now, at least, the founder and CEO of one of the largest frauds in history remains behind bars, with more than a decade in stark living conditions, thinking about what he’s done.

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