Jury finds Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes guilty on four counts
A federal jury on Monday found Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes guilty on four counts of wire fraud, more than two years after she was charged with misleading investors with fraudulent claims about the efficacy of her blood-testing technology.
The jury made up of eight men and four women found Holmes, 37, guilty after a four-month trial on three counts of wire fraud against Theranos investors and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, as The Wall Street Journal reported.
The jury found Holmes not guilty on three counts of committing wire fraud against patients who had paid Theranos for blood test results. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on two other counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
CNBC reported that U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila will sentence Holmes at a later date. Holmes potentially faces decades in prison, with the penalty for wire fraud being up to 20 years.
Her conviction is a bleak result for the Stanford University dropout, who was once hailed as the next Steve Jobs, after whom she modeled herself.
With her lofty claim of being able to conduct a multitude of diagnostic tests with only one drop of blood, Holmes was able to attract a bevy of eager investors, including the family of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the pharmacy chain Walgreens.
Apart from investors, Holmes also had a slew of cultural and political luminaries who publicly supported her ambitions. Former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz sat on Theranos’s board of directors.
Holmes once participated in a panel with former President Clinton, who said he was “impressed” by her “dogged determination” to improve the quality of laboratory tests.
During the trial, prosecutors said that Holmes “chose fraud over business failure,” having recognized that her company’s flagship product had numerous defects, but still decided against informing her many investors.
“She chose to be dishonest. This choice was not only callous; it was criminal,” assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Schenk said in his closing arguments.
Holmes’s defense sought to paint her as an entrepreneur who wished to improve health care. During her testimony, Holmes stated that any information she disseminated came from experts within her company.
“I wanted to convey the impact,” she said. “I wanted to talk about what this company could do a year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now. They weren’t interested in today or tomorrow or next month, they were interested in what kind of change we could make.”
Holmes also claimed that Theranos COO Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, with whom she was in an undisclosed relationship for 10 years, was physically and emotionally abusive towards her and controlled her daily life.
She has accused Balwani of rape, saying he would “force me to have sex with him when I didn’t want to because he would say that he wanted me to know he still loved me.”
Balwani’s own trial is scheduled to begin later this year. He also faces charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
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