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Sam Bankman Fried’s Legal Team Cites Autism Spectrum Disorder in Plea for Leniency

Lawyers for disgraced former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) have argued that judges should consider their client’s autism traits when deciding his prison sentence.

SBF faces a maximum of 110 years between seven counts of money laundering, wire fraud and securities fraud.

However, his defense team argues a sentence of 5-to-6.5 years if fairer, as he is “uniquely vulnerable in a prison population,” according to a legal filing submitted on Tuesday.

“Because individuals with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) may have difficulty responding to certain social cues and contexts, they are at risk from both other inmates and prison guards who may view their failure to respond ‘appropriately’ to social cues as disrespectful or disobedient,” SBF’s lawyers wrote in the memo.

According to SBF’s defense, their client “has outward characteristics typical of neurodiversity”.

He has allegedly had to practice facial expressions and force himself to maintain consistent eye contact in order to avoid miscommunication. At times, he can come across as “abrupt, dismissive, evasive, detached or uncaring.”

They argue that Sam, like other ASD-positive individuals, “lack[s] […] conventional effect [s], combined with odd gestures and lack of eye contact, [this] can reduce our ability to feel empathy towards them, and can lead us to jump to negative conclusions about their true motivations and feelings.”

The filing also states that members of prison populations have to follow “unwritten rules” typically devised by their fellow inmates when they arrive.

People with autism spectrum disorder have a hard time picking up on social cues and are at greater risk of falling foul of these so-called rules.

Besides Bankman Fried’s Autism…

Lawyers are pulling out all the stops to try and get SBF, who turns 32 next Wednesday, a much lighter sentence.

In addition to pleading his diagnosis on the autism spectrum, they’re also asking Judge Kaplan to look at his age and charitable endeavors.

“When the factors are considered, including Sam’s charitable works and demonstrated commitment to others, a sentence that returns Sam promptly to a productive role in society would be sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the purposes of sentencing,” wrote his lawyers.

They’re also arguing that the FTX case—one of the largest cases of financial fraud in history—will be a “zero loss” case if the estate reimburses creditors for their losses; a likely outcome.

SBF’s immediate family also appealed to the judge for leniency this week, citing similar reasons to his lawyers.

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