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Bankman-Fried Legal Team Brings ‘El Chapo,’ Ghislaine Maxwell Experience to Defense

 |  January 9, 2023

Former FTX crypto exchange CEO Sam Bankman-Fried has reportedly chosen a pair of attorneys with prior experience handling high-profile cases.

Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell each have experience — as prosecutors and defense lawyers — with notorious defendants, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Monday (Jan. 9).

Both men were part of the team that represented convicted high-profile sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell. Everdell, meanwhile, helped prosecute cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera during his time at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The two lawyers are partners in the firm Cohen & Gresser and are known for their careful, determined and no-frills approach to cases, WSJ reported, citing comments from attorneys who know both lawyers.

Read more: FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried Will Plead Not Guilty

That under-the-radar approach contrasts with Bankman-Fried’s outspoken demeanor prior to his arrest on fraud charges last month following a string of appearances and online interviews.

Bankman-Fried’s selection of a defense team comes as the DOJ is acting swiftly to build its case against the 30-year-old Californian following the collapse of FTX, while also actively moving to gain the cooperation of other former FTX executives and members of Bankman-Fried’s inner circle.

“The swiftness of charging coupled with the cooperators that emerged suggests this is an uphill battle for them,” said Jennifer Rodgers, per the report. Rodgers worked with Everdell in the U.S. attorney’s office and praised his work there.

Bankman-Fried is charged with eight criminal counts of illicitly using customer money to support his hedge fund, Alameda Research, as well as making millions of dollars in political donations and real estate purchases in what prosecutors have deemed “a fraud of epic proportions.”