Elizabeth Holmes begins defense in fraud trial

SAN JOSE, Calif .– In the past 11 weeks, prosecutors have revealed emails from desperate investors. They presented forged documents sid...


SAN JOSE, Calif .– In the past 11 weeks, prosecutors have revealed emails from desperate investors. They presented forged documents side by side with the originals. They called dozens of witnesses who laid charges of deception and evasion.

And on Friday, the person the prosecutors argued against – Elizabeth holmes, the founder of the failed blood tests start-up Theranos – spoke out in her defense. she faces 11 heads of investor scams on Theranos technology and affairs in a case that was billed as a referendum on Silicon Valley startup culture. She pleaded not guilty.

Mrs. Holmes – whose rise and fall captivated audiences and who has been erected as a symbol of the the pride of the tech industry and the last decade scam culture – began his testimony by answering a series of questions about Theranos. She reflected on her journey and how she launched the Silicon Valley start-up, which promised to revolutionize healthcare by using just a drop of patients’ blood to infer their illnesses.

When Ms. Holmes’ attorney, Kevin Downey, asked her if she had founded “technology capable of performing blood tests,” she said yes.

Ms Holmes only spent an hour on the stand on Friday, after the prosecution completed its case. She is due to resume her testimony on Monday.

Prosecutors had sought to portray Ms Holmes as a liar who turned Theranos into a $ 9 billion startup despite knowing all along that her blood tests were not working. They methodically described six main areas of his deception, including lies about Theranos’ work with military and pharmaceutical companies, his business performance, and the accuracy of his blood tests.

The stakes in the trial are high. If Ms Holmes, 37, is convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison on each count of fraud, and prosecutors may be emboldened to go after more start-ups spreading the truth to raise funds. An acquittal could send the message that Silicon Valley start-ups, which have exploded in power and wealth over the past decade, are hard to hold accountable.

“When prosecutors finish their case, they are basically saying they have enough to ask the jury to convict the accused on the spot,” said Andrey Spektor, lawyer at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and former federal district attorney for the Eastern District. from New York.

Ms Holmes, a Stanford University dropout who founded Theranos in 2003 and raised $ 945 million from investors, was charged with fraud charges in 2018. Her case has been stalled for years: d ‘first about the process, then the pandemic and finally Ms. Holmes. Holmes gives birth to a baby in August.

When the the trial finally started in September, prosecutors called former investors, partners and employees of Theranos to testify. Jim Mattis, the retired four-star Marine Corps general and former Secretary of Defense, who was a director of Theranos, spoke, as did a former laboratory director of Theranos who endured six days of grueling interrogations. In a surreal moment, a forensic expert recited text messages between Ms Holmes and Ramesh Balwani, her then boyfriend and business partner at Theranos known as Sunny.

This week, Alan Eisenman, an early investor in Theranos, said Ms Holmes cut him off and threatened when he asked for more information about the company. Yet even after this treatment, Eisenman invested more money in the start-up, believing his seemingly fast-growing business would bring wealth to funders like him.

Asked about his understanding of the value of his Theranos stock today, Mr. Eisenman said, “It’s not a deal, it’s a conclusion. It’s worth zero.

The most convincing evidence for the prosecution included a series of validation reports that Ms Holmes sent to potential investors and partners who gave the impression that pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and Schering-Plow, had endorsed Theranos’ technology. Representatives from each company testified that they did not approve Theranos’ blood test and were surprised to see their company logos added to the report.

Daniel Edlin, who worked at Theranos and was a fraternity brother of Mrs Holmes’ brother, Christian, testified that the start-up has faked demonstrations of its machines for potential investors, hid technology failures and dismissed abnormal blood test results.

Mr. Mattis testified that he was not aware of any contracts between Theranos and the military to install his machines on medevac helicopters or on the battlefield, as Mrs Holmes had often told investors.

The prosecution concluded its case with testimony of Roger Parloff, the reporter who wrote a magazine cover about Mrs Holmes, helping her to market herself. Mr Parloff’s article was sent to many investors as part of Ms Holmes’ pitch.

Yet particularly absent from the courtroom were some of the most prominent witnesses on the prosecution list. Ms Holmes’ rise has been aided by her association with business giants such as media mogul Rupert Murdoch, older statesmen such as Henry Kissinger and Admiral Gary Roughead, and lawyer David Boies . Theranos was shot, in part, by whistleblowers such as Tyler Shultz, a grandson of George Shultz, the former secretary of state, who served on Theranos’ board of directors. None of them testified.

Mr Balwani was also absent, who has been charged with fraud alongside Ms Holmes and is due to stand trial next year. His role as a staunch advocate for Theranos who lashed out at anyone questioning the company has been behind much of the testimony.

At almost every turn, Ms Holmes’ lawyers have sought to limit testimony and evidence. They attacked investor credibility, using legal notices to show investors knew they were betting on a young startup. Lawyers also dug holes in limited investor due diligence over Theranos’ claims. At one point, they asked Erika Cheung, a key whistleblower who worked in Theranos’ lab, to read the entire flowchart of people employed in the lab to show that she played a small role in it. whole operation.

After prosecutors finished their case on Friday, lawyers for Ms Holmes immediately asked the judge for an acquittal and said there was insufficient evidence. They also decided to drop certain charges, testimonies and evidence and succeeded in eliminating one count of fraud.

Their first witnesses included Trent Middleton, a paralegal with the defense team firm who created reports summarizing facts about Theranos, such as number of patents, investors and total income. Ms Holmes ‘lawyers also called out Fabrizio Bonanni, a biotech executive who joined Theranos’ board of directors in 2016, and who described the startup’s efforts to improve its processes and policies after being critiqued.

Then Ms. Holmes took the floor. His lawyers may try to shed light on his relationship with Mr. Balwani. The two dated in secret. In court records, Ms Holmes alleged he was emotionally abusive and controlling. Mr. Balwani’s lawyers have denied the allegations.

His testimony can expose him to potentially damaging cross-examination by prosecutors or perjury.

“Most defendants do not testify, especially in white collar cases where the government has many challenges to overcome, such as proving intent, and sometimes even simply proving that a crime has been committed,” Mr. .Spektor. Ms Holmes’ case is different, he said, as the offense is clear and the evidence is fairly easy to understand.

Throughout the proceedings, Ms Holmes had remained silent in the courtroom, whispering only to her lawyers or family members. But the jury heard her forcefully defend Theranos against fraud charges in video interviews played in court. It also heard her accept the blame.

“I am the founder and CEO of this company”, she said in one of the videos. “Everything that happens in this business is my responsibility. “

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Newsrust - US Top News: Elizabeth Holmes begins defense in fraud trial
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