Ellison and Wang guilty pleas unsealed as Bankman-Fried granted bail

Quick Take

  • Former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison and FTX co-founder and former CTO Gary Wang are facing the possibility of spending decades in prison after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York unsealed guilty pleas from the pair.
  • Ellison pled guilty to seven charges of fraud, which carry a maximum penalty of 110 years in prison.
  • A judge will determine actual sentences, which are often more lenient for cooperating defendants.

U.S. prosecutors released more details on the criminal charges that former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison and FTX co-founder and former CTO Gary Wang pled guilty to earlier this week.

The amount of fraud both admitted to technically comes with the possibility of spending decades in prison, according to unsealed guilty pleas from the pair for criminal charges connected to the collapse of the failed cryptocurrency exchange. But neither is likely to serve close to the maximum sentencing for their crimes after pleading guilty and cooperating with investigators. 

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York noted that the maximum sentences are provided for "informational purposes only," with any sentence determined by a judge. Plea deals usually come with agreements in place between prosecutors and defendants in order to reduce the amount of prison time cooperating defendants face. 

Ellison, 28, pled guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of actual wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. If she had gone to trial Ellison would have faced a maximum sentencing of 110 years in prison. 

Wang, 29, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of actual wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit commodities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. If Wang went to trial he would face up to 50 years of hard time. 

Bankman-Fried released on bail

Bankman-Fried, 30, was himself extradited to the U.S. from the Bahamas yesterday, and currently faces up to 115 years in prison. He appeared at federal court in New York on Thursday, where a judge said he'd be released on a $250 million bond package — secured in part by Bankman-Fried's parents' Palo Alto, Calif., house — while he awaits trial, Reuters reported. He'll have to surrender his passport and is required to be treated and evaluated for mental illness. He is next due in court on Jan. 3, Reuters said.

"Last week, we announced charges against Samuel Bankman-Fried for a sweeping fraud scheme that contributed to FTX’s collapse and for a campaign finance scheme that sought to influence public policy in Washington," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in the statement. "As I said last week, this investigation is very much ongoing, and it’s moving very quickly.  I also said that last week’s announcement would not be our last, and let me be clear once again, neither is today’s.”

Disclaimer: Beginning in 2021, Michael McCaffrey, the former CEO and majority owner of The Block, took a series of loans from founder and former FTX and Alameda CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. McCaffrey resigned from the company in December 2022 after failing to disclose those transactions.


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