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Elizabeth Holmes (C) and her mother Noel Holmes leave the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building on Monday.

SCIENCE & TECH: Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes found guilty on some fraud charges


A federal jury found Thernaos founder Elizabeth Holmes guilty of fraud on Monday.

Holmes was unanimously found guilty of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. She was found not guilty of four more charges and the jury could not reach a decision on three additional fraud charges.

She faces up to 20 years in prison for each charge, though it’s likely they would be served concurrently. A sentencing date hasn’t been given and it’s not clear if she will be placed into custody immediately in the meantime. Court watchers have said it’s likely Holmes will appeal.

Holmes, who had bowed her head several times before the jury’s decision was read aloud, remained seated and expressed no visible emotion as the verdict was given. Her partner, Billy Evans, showed agitation in earlier moments but appeared calm during the verdict reading.

Elizabeth Holmes (C) and her mother Noel Holmes leave the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building on Monday.
Getty Images
Elizabeth Holmes, center, leaves federal court in San Jose, Calif., Monday.
Elizabeth Holmes, center, leaves federal court in San Jose, Calif., Monday.
AP

The verdict comes after San Jose federal court jurors deliberated for seven days, weighing reams of evidence from a three-month trial that saw that testimony from dozens of people, including Holmes herself

It also comes after the jury of eight men and four women told Judge Edward Davila on Monday morning that they couldn’t reach an unanimous verdict on three out of 11 charges. Judge Davila then urged the jurors to keep deliberating, but the jury returned hours later to say they still remained deadlocked on three charges.

Holmes leaving court with her partner Billy Evans and parents Christian and Noel Holmes after being found guilty on several charges.
Holmes leaving court with her partner Billy Evans and parents Christian and Noel Holmes after being found guilty on several charges.
Photo by NICK OTTO/AFP via Getty Images
Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison for each charge.
Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison for each charge.
Photo by NICK OTTO/AFP via Getty Images

Federal prosecutors had accused Holmes of spearheading a massive scam as she promised patients and investors that Theranos was building technology capable of revolutionizing medicine by testing for hundreds of diseases using a single machine and a finger prick of blood. 

They said that Holmes knew Theranos lacked the technology to deliver on Holmes’ promises — even as she raised nearly $1 billion from investors and became a Silicon Valley icon, posing for magazine photoshoots wearing a black turtleneck in homage to her hero, Steve Jobs. 

“She chose fraud over business failure,” federal prosecutor Jeff Schenk told the jury during closing arguments in December. “She chose to be dishonest. This choice was not only callous; it was criminal.”

Holmes is likely to appeal the verdict.
Holmes is likely to appeal the verdict.
AP
Elizabeth Holmes
Elizabeth Holmes’ trial lasted three months.
REUTERS
Theranos
Theranos promised to revolutionize medicine.
picture alliance via Getty Image

Holmes’ — who gave birth to a baby boy in July — argued that the founder genuinely believed in the potential of Theranos, pointing to the fact that she stayed at the company long after a damning 2015 Wall Street Journal exposé showed the company’s technology was deeply flawed. 

“You know that at the first sign of trouble, crooks cash out,” Downey told jurors in San Jose federal court. “She went down with that ship when it went down.”

Elizabeth Holmes Fortune cover
Elizabeth Holmes was a Silicon Valley icon.

“She believed she was building a technology that would change the world,” he added.

The defense also tried to shift blame from Holmes to Ramesh “Sonny” Balwani, Holmes’ ex-boyfriend and Theranos’ former chief operating officer. Holmes said that Balwani controlled and manipulated her in the boardroom and the bedroom

Balwani — who is nearly 20 years older than Holmes — controlled how she behaved, spoke and even ate, according to Holmes. He also pressured her into sex, she said. 

“He told me that I didn’t know what I was doing in business, that my convictions were wrong, that he was astonished at my mediocrity and if I followed my instincts, I was going to fail,” Holmes said.

Balwani said that “who I was was never going to be a person who would succeed in life or in business, so I needed to kill that person and become a new Elizabeth,” Holmes added. 

Elizabeth Holmes and Ramesh "Sonny" Balwani
Elizabeth Holmes (left) accused Ramesh “Sonny” Balwani of abuse, which he denies.

Prosecutors told jurors that Holmes could still be guilty of fraud even if she was abused by Balwani. 

Balawni, who has denied Holmes’ accusations, is facing the same charges as Holmes in a trial slated to begin next year.

Holmes had pleaded not guilty to nine counts of fraud and two counts of conspiracy. Balwani also has pleaded not guilty and will be tried at a later date.

Elizabeth Holmes
Elizabeth Holmes gave birth to a baby boy in July.
REUTERS

With Post wires



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