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In the gritty corridors of Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC), Sam Bankman-Fried, once a crypto mogul, finds himself in a plot straight out of a gangster flick, while awaiting sentencing after being found guilty on seven counts of defrauding customers and lenders while CEO of FTX.
Former inmate and mob enforcer for the Bonanno crime family Gene Borrello dished out the scoop to crypto blogger Tiffany Fong, painting a picture of SBF as the perfect mark — timid with "the body of an 80-year-old."
Special Unit, Special Problems
SBF was placed in a special unit for high-profile individuals, but his fame offered little solace. Initially on suicide watch, he soon joined the general unit, where his naivety and vulnerability made him an easy target for extortion attempts, Borrello recounts.
Borrello, SBF's dormitory roommate, emerged as an unlikely protector, defending him from inmates who tried to extort the former billionaire. SBF's lack of prison savvy and timid demeanor made him stand out in this harsh environment.
Fong, whom has built up a relationship with SBF over the years and interviewed him while he was on house arrest, seemed genuinely concerned for his well-being, asking Borello if he was sad, being bullied and whether he was able to make friends. She told Borello that she was "glad somebody was able to stand up for him."
Despite his immense wealth, SBF's modest lifestyle choices, like wearing an Apple Watch and driving a Toyota Camry, became topics of jailhouse discussion. His perception of his legal situation seemed overly optimistic, expecting a 20-year sentence while underestimating the severity of federal charges.
Naivety in a Harsh World
SBF's naivety extended to his interactions with other inmates. Unfamiliar with prison culture, he became a target. Borrello and his friends had to step in to guide and educate him about the unwritten rules of prison life.
Described as physically unimposing and timid, SBF's nervous speech and avoidance of eye contact further accentuated his misfit status in the gritty world of MDC.
Borrello even said that he had to tell SBF to take a shower as he was avoiding it, which Fong said might be due to fears about "dropping the soap." But SBF has also been winning friends by teaching them the tricks of another trade - crypto investing, as according to Borrello people would be sitting down with him for hours as he went through the ins-and-outs of the crypto market.
SBF was also reported by the Wall Street Journal to have traded mackerel, a common prison currency, for a haircut, illustrating his swift and surreal descent from a crypto mogul to just another inmate trying to navigate the complexities of prison life.
Perhaps the lesson here is clear: no matter how high you soar in the crypto skies, it's wise to pack a parachute... or at least brush up on your prison barter skills. Who knew that understanding the nuanced economy of canned fish could be just as crucial as navigating the volatile waves of cryptocurrency?