On Monday, the jury began considering the merits of a fraud trial against Elizabeth Holmes, an entrepreneur accused of lying to investors and patients about her blood testing start-up, Theranos.
Ms. Holmes’ trial is about four months long, with testimony from dozens of witnesses, including scientists, chief executives and a four-star general. The hearing is meant to represent a turning point in the tech industry and its overly optimistic salesmanship culture.
A jury of eight men and four women is debating whether the plaintiffs, out of reasonable doubt, should be allowed to proceed. Holmes gave Theranos nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of wire fraud conspiracy while pitching investors and patients. Her ex-business partner and boyfriend, Ramesh Balwani, was convicted with her in 2018. Both have pleaded not guilty. Mr. Balwani will face trial next year.
Each of the 11 counts carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, although most will be served together. Discussions are scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Ms. Holmes’s case is different for its rarity: few tech executives have been convicted of fraud, fewer have gone to jail, and fewer are women.
The case involves more than half a decade of business deals. Ms. Holmes founded Theranos in 2003 and raised $ 945 million from investors such as start-up Rupert Murdoch, the family of former education secretary Betsy Davos, and heirs to the Walmart fortune. Theranos performed more than 8 million blood tests on patients.
Ms. Holmes’ rise to the top of the business world was undoubtedly covered by the news media as she collapsed. Theranos collapsed in 2018 after whistle-blowers exposed his problems to The Wall Street Journal and federal regulators. The saga was documented in popular books, podcasts and documentaries; It will soon be shown in scripted shows on Hulu and Apple TV +.
During the trial, Ms. Holmes took a stand for seven days. She told the side of her story in public for the first time. She admitted to making some mistakes and blaming her colleagues for others. She cried while accusing Mr. Strengthening of emotional and sexual abuse. He has denied the allegations.
Last week, the plaintiff and Ms. Holmes’s lawyers summed up their points for the jury on the closed-door arguments that lasted for hours.
Kevin Downey, Ms. Holmes’s lawyer said she did not intentionally mislead investors and patients with her statements. She thought Theranos’ technology was working, Mr. Downey argued, and misunderstood her statements about what Theranos planned to do in the future for what investors could do at the time.
“She believed she was creating a technology that would change the world,” he said.
Jeffrey Shank, Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chief Prosecutor, drew attention to the evidence that showed Ms. Holmes knew that Theranos’ tests had an accuracy problem and that his business was failing. Ms. Holmes chose to keep the company alive by lying, he said.
“She chose fraud over business failure,” he said.