Elizabeth Holmes faces trial for Theranos crimes

Elizabeth Holmes faces trial for Theranos crimes

Michael Liedtke, The Associated Press

Posted on Friday, November 18, 2022 at 5:52 AM (EST).

Last updated: Friday, November 18, 2022 at 5:52 AM (EST).

A federal judge will decide Friday whether Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes should serve a lengthy prison sentence for defrauding investors and putting patients at risk while selling a fake blood-testing technology.

Holmes’ trial in the same court in San Jose, California, where he was convicted of four counts of investor fraud and conspiracy in January, marks a high point in a saga that has been spun into an HBO documentary and an award-winning Hulu TV series. his meteoric rise and mortifying fall.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila will take the lead as he considers the federal government’s recommendation that Holmes, 38, be sent to federal prison for 15 years. That’s a little less than the 20-year maximum sentence he could have faced, but far longer than his legal team’s attempt to limit his incarceration to no more than 18 months, preferably served under house arrest.

Her lawyers have argued that Holmes deserves lighter treatment as a well-intentioned activist who is now a devoted mother with another child on the way. Their arguments were supported by more than 130 letters praising Holmes from family, friends and former colleagues.

A probation report presented to Davila also recommended nine years in prison for Holmes.

Prosecutors also want Holmes to pay $804 million in restitution. That sum includes most of the nearly $1 billion Holmes amassed from a list of sophisticated investors that included software magnate Larry Ellison, media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the Walton family behind Walmart.

While fending off investors, Holmes tapped a high-powered Theranos committee that included former US Defense Secretary James Mattis, who testified against him at his trial, and two former US secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and the late George Shultz, whose son filed a statement. yours. Blasting Holmes for concocting a scheme that played for the “stupid” Shultz.

Davila’s sentence – and the date of Holmes’ possible jail time – could be affected by the former businessman’s second pregnancy in two years. After giving birth to a son shortly before her trial began last year, Holmes became pregnant sometime this year while out on bail.

Although her lawyers did not mention the pregnancy in an 82-page memo sent to Davila last week, the pregnancy was confirmed in a letter from her current partner, William “Billy” Evans, who pleaded with the judge to show mercy.

In the 12-page letter, which included photos of Holmes with her 1-year-old son, Evans mentioned that Holmes participated in a Golden Gate Bridge swimming event earlier this year while pregnant. Holmes also revealed that she contracted a case of COVID while pregnant in August. Evans did not disclose Holmes’ due date in his letter.

Duncan Levin, a former federal prosecutor who is now a defense attorney, announced that Davila’s sentencing decision will not be affected by the pregnancy, but he hopes the judge will allow her to be released after the baby is born.

“He’s not going to be a flight risk after he was convicted that he was awaiting sentencing,” Levin said. “We must temper our sentences with a measure of humanity.”

The pregnancy is likely to draw criticism from Davila regardless of the sentence, predicted Amanda Kramer, another former federal prosecutor.

“There’s a pretty healthy debate about what kind of phrasing is needed to achieve general deterrence to send a message to others who are thinking of crossing that line from hawkish seller to material falsification,” Kramer said.

Federal prosecutor Robert Leach pointedly stated that Holmes deserves a serious sentence for committing what he described as one of the most white-collar crimes ever committed in Silicon Valley. In a scathing 46-page memo, Leach told the judge he has an opportunity to send a message that curbs the arrogance and hyperbole fueled by the technology boom of the past decade.

Holmes “captured his investors’ hopes that a young, dynamic entrepreneur had changed health care,” Leach wrote. “And thanks to his deception, he achieved spectacular fame, adoration and billions of dollars in wealth.”

While Holmes was acquitted by a jury of four counts of fraud and conspiracy related to patients who received Theranos blood tests, Leach also asked Davila to consider the health threats posed by Holmes’ behavior.

Holmes’ attorney, Kevin Downey, painted him as a selfless visionary who spent 14 years of his life trying to revolutionize health care with a technology that could scan hundreds of diseases and other foods with just a few drops of blood.

Although evidence presented at his trial showed that the tests produced unreliable results that could have misled patients, his lawyers asserted that Holmes never stopped trying to improve the technology until Theranos collapsed in 2018. They also stated that Holmes never sold it. his Theranos shares – a $4.5 billion stake in 2014 when Holmes was named the next Steve Jobs on the covers of business magazines.

Defending against the criminal charges has left Holmes with “a great debt that cannot be healed,” Downey wrote, suggesting that Davila will not pay any restitution he may seek as part of his sentence.

“Holmes is not a danger to society,” Downey wrote.

Downey also asked Davila to consider the alleged sexual and emotional abuse Holmes suffered while with Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who became a Theranos investor, top executive and eventual accomplice in his crimes. Balwani, 57, will be sentenced. Dec. 7 after being convicted of 12 counts of fraud and conspiracy at the July trial.

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