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Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes takes the witness stand in fraud trial: NPR


Elizabeth Holmes appears in federal court in San Jose, California on Monday. Holmes is accused of fooling elite funders, clients and patients into believing her startup was about to revolutionize medicine.

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Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes takes the witness stand in fraud trial: NPR

Elizabeth Holmes appears in federal court in San Jose, California on Monday. Holmes is accused of fooling elite funders, clients and patients into believing her startup was about to revolutionize medicine.

Nic Coury / AP

Elizabeth Holmes told the jury during her criminal fraud trial on Tuesday that she had personally lettered pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Schering-Plow on documents sent to potential business partners and investors without the companies’ consent.

It was the most damning admission Holmes had sworn in in three days of testifying in his own defense. The former CEO of blood testing company Theranos is trying to persuade the jury that she is innocent of 11 counts of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud.

Prosecutors said Holmes falsified several reports to make it look like drug companies were endorsing Theranos devices when in reality they had moved away from the startup.

Holmes said she had no intention of deceiving anyone, but was simply trying to acknowledge the other work Theranos had done with the drug companies.

Still, it was a mistake, she said.

“I wish I had done it differently,” said Holmes, speaking behind a closed plexiglass witness box in a calm, confident tone.

For years, Holmes has claimed that Theranos developed groundbreaking blood testing technology that would allow people to have more control over their health by allowing them to test hundreds of conditions with a small prick of blood.

In 2014, the company’s value was estimated at $ 9 billion, more than the value of Uber and Spotify at the time.

But soon after, regulators and the media began to ask in-depth questions about the technology’s effectiveness, causing the company to collapse.

In 2017, federal prosecutors indicted Holmes and Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, the company’s No. 2.

Most of Holmes ‘testimony, so far, has involved abuse of responsibility, highlighting the expertise of Theranos’ board of directors, lab staff, and other company employees who Holmes said were close to the operation of its blood analyzers. This made Holmes’ confession that she placed the misleading header on the Theranos documents remarkable.

“This work was done in partnership with these companies, and I was trying to convey it,” Holmes told the jury on Tuesday.

Holmes is yet to speak at the helm of the role of Balwani, who, in addition to being the former Theranos chairman, is also Holmes’ ex-boyfriend.

Balwani has been charged with wire fraud and will face a separate trial in January. Holmes’ attorneys argued in legal documents before the trial began that Balwani physically and emotionally abused Holmes, altering his state of mind at the time of the alleged fraud. This controversial defense strategy has yet to be heard by the jury.

Spend the time with tarot cards and Elizabeth Holmes memorabilia

Holmes’ eagerly awaited testimony created a sort of scene outside the usually sleepy San Jose Federal Courthouse.

Reporters, spectators and others eager to hear from Holmes lined up outside the courthouse at 2 a.m. this week to secure a seat in the courtroom.

Monday, a journalist does tarot card readings pending the opening of the court.

A woman outside the courthouse on Tuesday appeared to be selling Holmes-themed items, including black turtlenecks and blonde wigs. (As CEO of Theranos, Holmes was known to wear black turtlenecks, although she ditched them for the trial.) When courthouse security asked her to stop the operation, the woman replied that the display was only a “performance art”.

Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes takes the witness stand in fraud trial: NPR

Some spectators at the Elizabeth Holmes trial brought Holmes-themed items to the courthouse that were “for sale.”

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Bobby Allyn / NPR

It wasn’t the strangest thing that happened during the Holmes trial.

During the jury selection, a “concerned citizen” appeared in court claiming to be a neutral observer. He told reporters his name is Hanson and he was there to monitor how the media reported the case. He was actually San Diego hotel mogul Bill Evans, the father of Elizabeth Holmes’ partner Billy Evans.

From “the next Steve Jobs” to the accused

Since the trial began over 11 weeks ago, prosecutors have called more than two dozen witnesses to prove that Holmes knowingly deceived investors and patients about the capabilities of Theranos’ blood testing technology.

Witnesses included former Theranos employees, patients who received false or false test results and former high-level company supporters, including former US Secretary of Defense James Mattis. He told jurors that Holmes had misled him into believing Theranos was about to develop tests that could help save lives on the battlefield.

“It got to a point where I didn’t know what to believe about Theranos,” Mattis told the jury in September.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty to all counts. If the jury finds her guilty, the judge could sentence Holmes to a lengthy federal prison sentence.

The rise and fall of Holmes, once heralded as Silicon Valley’s next Steve Jobs, has captured the nation’s imagination. Her journey, from a girl prodigy who developed the “healthcare iPod” to a disgraced defendant, has been the subject of a bestselling book, documentary and podcast series. .

Her intensity and charisma made her a compelling salesperson, raising more than $ 700 million for a business that prosecutors said was doomed to fail.

In the tech world and beyond, Holmes’ case has reignited the debate about the ‘pretend until you do’ culture of Silicon Valley and whether it has been treated more harshly than others. tech leaders fallen because of their gender.

Holmes has firmly maintained his innocence, with his legal team essentially claiming that prosecutors attempted to turn a bankrupt company into a federal crime.

But government lawyers counter that Holmes knew what she was doing. Prosecutors argue that Holmes was intentionally misleading about Theranos’ finances and underlying technology in an attempt to land on magazine covers and generate mind-blowing buzz and investments.

Holmes’ testimony will resume next week, when she is expected to be cross-examined by federal prosecutors.



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