Elizabeth Holmes Found Guilty On Four Charges
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, the one-time billionaire and darling of Silicon Valley who promised a revolutionary blood testing technology, has been found guilty of four charges in her criminal fraud trial.
The jury of eight men and four women were handed the case in mid-December after three months of proceedings and testimony from 32 witnesses. Deliberations lasted more than 50 hours over seven days.
U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila will sentence Holmes at a later date. Holmes was found not guilty on four charges and there was no verdict on the other three. Jurors told Davila earlier on Monday that they were deadlocked on three of the 11 charges.
Once heralded as the next Steve Jobs, Holmes raised $945 million from high-profile investors including the family of Betsy DeVos, Rupert Murdoch and the Walmart-founding Walton family. Theranos, at its peak, was valued at $9 billion.
Since it started on Sept.8, the Holmes trial has attracted worldwide media attention. In the final weeks of proceedings, journalists and spectators began lining up at 2 a.m. to obtain one of the 34 tickets for the main courtroom or 45 tickets for the overflow room.
Jurors heard impassioned pleas in closing arguments from the government and Holmes’ defense.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Schenk told the jury that Holmes “chose fraud over business failure. She chose to be dishonest with her investors and patients. That choice was not only callous, it was criminal.”
Schenk reminded the jury that time and time again Holmes’ own employees were telling her the technology simply didn’t work yet she kept raising money on false claims.
Prosecutors also tried to convince the jury to disregard Holmes’ claims that her top executive and then-boyfriend Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani abused her. Blaming Balwani was central to Holmes’ defense strategy.
However, thousands of private text messages between Holmes and Balwani, obtained by CNBC, undercut some of Holmes’ claims. The messages, which span from June 2011 to July 2016, revealed romantic musings between the two. They show a high-flying lifestyle while their start-up was bleeding hundreds of millions of dollars.
“You do not need to decide whether that abuse happened to reach your verdict,” Schenk said. “The case is about false statements made to investors, false statements made to patients.”
In his closing argument an attorney for Holmes, Kevin Downey, told the jury that Holmes acted in good faith and “believed that she built a technology that could change the world.”