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Elizabeth Holmes takes the stand in her felony fraud trial : NPR

Elizabeth Holmes takes the stand in her felony fraud trial : NPR

Elizabeth Holmes takes the stand in her criminal fraud trial : NPR

Elizabeth Holmes, pictured in Might 2021, took the stand on Friday.

Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Space Information Group by way of AP


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Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Space Information Group by way of AP

Elizabeth Holmes, pictured in Might 2021, took the stand on Friday.

Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Space Information Group by way of AP

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Fallen Silicon Valley star Elizabeth Holmes, accused of bamboozling traders and sufferers into believing that her startup Theranos had developed a blood-testing gadget that will reshape well being care, took the witness stand Friday in her trial for felony fraud.

The shock resolution to have Holmes testify so early got here as a bombshell and carries appreciable danger. Federal prosecutors, who rested their months-long case earlier on Friday, have made it clear that they are wanting to grill Holmes beneath oath.

Prosecutors will not get that likelihood till Monday on the earliest, when the trial resumes. Prosecutors referred to as 29 witnesses to help their rivalry that Holmes endangered sufferers’ lives whereas additionally duping traders and prospects about Theranos’ expertise. Amongst them was Gen. James Mattis, a former U.S. protection secretary and former Theranos board member.

Additionally they offered inner paperwork and typically salacious texts between Holmes and her former lover, Sunny Bulwani, who additionally served as Theranos’ chief working officer. By the prosecution’s case, Holmes sat bolt upright in her chair, emotionless even when one-time supporters testified to their misgivings about Theranos.

That mixture of compelling testimony and documentary proof apparently proved efficient at convincing Holmes to inform her facet of the story in courtroom. Listening Friday had been 10 males and 4 ladies on the jury that may in the end resolve her destiny. If convicted, Holmes — now 37 and mom to a just lately born son — might be sentenced to as much as 20 years in jail.

Shortly after 3 p.m., Holmes walked slowly to the stand earlier than a rapt courtroom stuffed with spectators and jurors, all sporting masks. She started her practically hour-long testimony by recounting her early years as a scholar at Stanford College and her curiosity in illness detection, culminating in her resolution to drop out of faculty at 19 and located the startup later referred to as Theranos.

As the corporate took form, so did its imaginative and prescient. Finally Theranos developed a tool it referred to as the Edison that would allegedly scan for a whole lot of well being issues with just a few drops of blood. Present assessments typically every require a vial of blood, making it each sluggish and impractical to run greater than a handful of affected person assessments at a time.

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Had it labored as promised, the Edison might have revolutionized well being care by making it simpler and cheaper to scan for early indicators of illness and different well being points. As an alternative, jurors heard recordings of Holmes boasting to traders about purported breakthroughs that later proved to be unfaithful.

Witness testimony and different proof offered within the trial strongly means that Holmes misrepresented purported offers with main pharmaceutical corporations resembling Pfizer and the U.S. navy whereas additionally concealing recurring issues with the Edison.

However the Edison issues did not change into public information till The Wall Avenue Journal printed the primary in a collection of explosive articles in October 2015. An audit by the Facilities for Medicare and Medicaid Providers confirmed these issues the next yr.

By then, Holmes and Balwani had raised a whole lot of thousands and thousands of {dollars} from billionaire traders resembling media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the Walton household of Walmart and struck offers with Walgreens and Safeway to conduct blood assessments of their pharmacies. These investments at one level valued Theranos at $9 billion, giving Holmes a $4.5 billion fortune — on paper — in 2014.

Proof offered on the trial additionally revealed that Holmes had distributed monetary projections calling for privately held Theranos to generate $140 million in income in 2014 and $990 million in income in 2015 whereas additionally turning a revenue. A replica of Theranos’ 2015 tax return offered as a part of the trial proof confirmed the corporate had revenues of lower than $500,000 that yr whereas reporting gathered losses of $585 million.

Ellen Kreitzberg, a Santa Clara College legislation professor who has been attending the trial, mentioned she thought the federal government had made a robust case.

“There’s nothing kind of fancy or attractive about this testimony,” she mentioned. “The witnesses had been very cautious of their testimony. Not one of the witnesses appeared to harbor anger or a grudge in opposition to her. And so due to that, they had been very highly effective witnesses.”

Different witnesses referred to as by the federal government included former two Theranos lab administrators who repeatedly warned Holmes that the blood-testing expertise was wildly unreliable. Prosecutors additionally questioned two part-time lab administrators, together with Balwani’s dermatologist, who spent just a few hours scrutinizing Theranos’ blood-testing expertise throughout late 2014 and most of 2015. As Holmes’ legal professionals famous, the part-time lab administrators had been allowed beneath authorities rules.

Different key witnesses included former staff of Pfizer, former Safeway CEO Steve Burd and a litany of Theranos traders, together with a consultant for the household funding agency of Betsy DeVos, the previous training secretary beneath President Donald Trump. The DeVos household wound up investing $100 million.

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