The jury in the Elizabeth Holmes fraud trial begins its deliberations
A jury began on Monday to deliberate on the merits of the fraud lawsuit against Elizabeth Holmes, the entrepreneur accused of lying to investors and patients about her blood testing startup, Theranos.
Ms Holmes’ trial lasted nearly four months, with testimony from dozens of witnesses including scientists, CEOs and a four-star general. The debates have come to represent a watershed moment for the tech industry and its overly optimistic sales culture.
Jury of eight men and four women debate whether prosecutors have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms Holmes committed nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud while introducing Theranos to investors and patients. Her former business partner and boyfriend, Ramesh Balwani, was charged alongside her in 2018. Both have pleaded not guilty. Mr. Balwani will be tried next year.
Each of the 11 charges carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, although they are most likely served concurrently. Deliberations are scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Ms Holmes’ case stands out for its rarity: few tech executives have been charged with fraud, fewer have gone to jail and even fewer have been women.
The case spans over half a decade of business relationships. Ms Holmes founded Theranos in 2003, and the startup has raised $ 945 million from investors such as Rupert Murdoch, the family of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and heirs to the Walmart fortune. Theranos has performed more than eight million blood tests on patients.
Ms Holmes’ rise to the top echelons of business has been covered breathlessly by the media, as has her downfall. Theranos collapsed in 2018 after whistleblowers exposed his problems to the Wall Street Journal and federal regulators. The saga has been documented in popular books, podcasts, and documentaries; soon it will be featured in scripted shows on Hulu and Apple TV +.
During the trial, Ms Holmes testified for seven days. It was the first time she had publicly told her side of the story. She admitted to making some mistakes and blamed her colleagues for others. She cried as she accused Mr. Balwani of emotional and sexual abuse. He denied the charges.
Last week, prosecutors and Ms Holmes’ attorneys summarized their arguments for the jury in hours of oral argument.
Kevin Downey, Ms Holmes’ attorney, said she did not intentionally mislead investors and patients with her statements. She believed Theranos’ technology was working, argued Mr Downey, and investors misunderstood statements she made about what Theranos was planning to do in the future for what she could do at the era.
“She believed she was building technology that would change the world,” he said.
Jeffrey Schenk, a deputy US attorney and senior prosecutor, pointed to evidence showing Ms Holmes was aware that Theranos’ tests had problems with accuracy and her business was failing. Ms Holmes chose to keep the business alive by lying, he said.
“She chose fraud over business failure,” he said.