CM – Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes’ attorneys said she was a failure but not a criminal on the first day of her fraud trial

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« Well, Theranos failed in the end and Ms. Holmes went away with nothing, » said a Holmes lawyer. « But failure is not a crime. »

Von

Stephanie K. Bear

Last updated on September 8, 2021 at 6:33 pm. ET

Posted on Sep 8, 2021 at 5:04 pm ET

SAN JOSE, California – With her black turtleneck sweaters and big eyes, Elizabeth Holmes embodied the caricature image of the Silicon Valley founder for years, whose big ideas could change the world. But after the spectacular and public collapse of her blood testing firm Theranos, lawyers in the Holmes federal fraud trial on Wednesday tried to tell a different story: Was she actually a liar and a fraud in pursuit of money and fame? Or just a woman who tried and failed?

Attorneys for the Justice Department and defense attorneys for Holmes presented these two images in their opening statements to a jury of five women and seven men. Over the next several months, they will hear testimony from former Theranos employees, investors, patients and others to determine whether Holmes, the former Theranos CEO who was once hailed as the next Steve Jobs, was deliberately misleading investors and lied to patients about the capabilities of their company’s blood testing technology.

« This is about fraud, about lies and fraud to get money, » US Attorney General Robert Leach told the jury.

Holmes, 37, is charged with tenfold wire fraud and double conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Each count carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors allege Holmes conspired with her ex-boyfriend, Ramesh « Sunny » Balwani, who was Theranos’ president and chief operating officer to carry out the plan. The couple knew the company’s blood tests gave unreliable results but sold them anyway, prosecutors said, and then committed wire fraud by sending those results electronically to patients and doctors across state lines. Balwani faces the same charges as Holmes and will face separate trials next year. In the defense statement, Holmes attorney Lance Wade portrayed the former CEO as an entrepreneur who « worked her way to the bone » for years have to achieve a noble and worthwhile goal: to make laboratory tests cheaper and more accessible. She didn’t succeed, but that doesn’t make her a criminal, said Wade.

« Well, Theranos failed in the end. And Mrs. Holmes went away with nothing, ”said Wade. « But failure is not a crime. »

Elizabeth Holmes (center) arrives in San Jose, California on September 8, 2021 for the first day of her fraud trial.

Holmes had tried the medicine with Theranos’ proprietary Revolutionize the machine that she claimed could do hundreds of tests with just a few drops of blood. Reportedly faster, cheaper, and more accurate than any other laboratory blood test device on the market, the company’s device could revolutionize medicine by bringing critical diagnostics to drug stores, households, and even battlefields. But, as a 2015 Wall Street Journal investigation found, the actual machine could only run a small number of the tests, and its results were riddled with inaccuracies. Instead, Theranos used commercially available machines to perform most of his tests, diluting the drops of blood to increase volume for some tests, and for others using much larger samples taken from the patient’s arms.

« The Evidence will show that the defendant told her investors that she developed a miniature blood analyzer that can perform virtually any test. It couldn’t, ”Leach said. « It never ran more than 12 tests in the clinical laboratory, and it got her bad. » in which she allegedly committed fraud. On Wednesday, Wade did not make these allegations directly, but instead told the jury that Holmes made a mistake in trusting and relying on Balwani, who was nearly 20 years older, as their « primary advisor ».

« Mister Balwani encouraged her to drop out of school and pursue her idea, « said Wade. » And you will hear that he also had a personal relationship with her. In this case, you will learn that certain aspects of that relationship have a huge impact Mrs. Holmes had. ”

Wade added that Holmes has moved on and is now living in the Bay Area with her partner, hotel heir Billy Evans, and their new baby, while witnessing her knowledge of her previous relationship with Balwani « There was another side that most people have never seen, » he said.

But when things got tough, Holmes kept lying, prosecutors said. Leach described how Holmes, at several points, than the company It took money, made a number of misrepresentations on a variety of subjects, including the capabilities of the company’s technology, their work with the military and pharmaceutical giants, and the accuracy of their tests. Results. He claimed this was to get investors to take out their checkbooks.

But Wade said Holmes « didn’t go to work every day to lie, cheat and steal, » insisting that theirs While the company’s shares were worth billions at one point, they never paid off. « She was all in Theranos, » he said, adding that she was « motivated by his mission, not money. » / p> A BuzzFeed News investigation conducted with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists based on thousands of documents the government refused to see.

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