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Elizabeth Holmes will be on trial today facing multiple conspiracy and fraud charges for her lead role in the Theranos scandal.

As the founder and former CEO of the disgraced blood testing startup that wowed the world of tech investing before collapsing in a storm over the effectiveness of the technology allegedly at its core, Ms.Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Theranos was at one point valued at around $ 9 billion but is now synonymous with malpractice, with Ms Holmes accused of lying to patients about the tests and investors of the expected income.

The trial will begin in federal court in San Jose, California, after a series of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic and the accused’s surprise pregnancy.

Scheduled to last around three months, the final chapter in Ms Holmes’ spectacular rise and fall is expected to see defense attorneys get creative in the face of a strong prosecution case. It is the most anticipated trial of the year.

So how did Ms. Holmes come to this position?

Dropping out of Stanford Engineering School in 2003, Ms Holmes used her tuition money as seed funding for a consumer health tech company based on the idea of ​​performing blood tests. using only a small amount of blood – such as a finger prick – rather than drawing blood for testing in vials with needles. She cited her own fear of needles as the inspiration for the technology, which she called Edison.

Presenting her idea to her professor of medicine at Stanford, Ms Holmes was told it wouldn’t work. Several other experts repeated this warning, but she convinced her dean at the School of Engineering to support the concept and he became the first member of Theranos’ board of directors (a combination of the words “therapy” and “diagnosis”) .

Ms. Holmes began raising money for the company from technology investors and adopted the Steve Jobs look, frequently appearing in black turtlenecks and speaking in a baritone voice. By the end of 2010, she had raised $ 92 million in capital and was becoming well known in Silicon Valley.

In 2014, she was on the cover of Fortune, Forbes, Inc, and The New York Times Style Magazine. When Theranos was valued at $ 9 billion in 2014, Ms Holmes was placed at number 100 on the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in the United States and named as the youngest self-made billionaire.

By this point, she had raised over $ 400 million in venture capital, had her name on 18 U.S. patents and 66 foreign patents, and had established business relationships with the Cleveland Clinic, Capital BlueCross, and AmeriHealth Caritas to use the technology. company for blood tests. . Among its investors were Rupert Murdoch, Carlos Slim, Larry Ellison, Henry Kissinger and George Schultz.

In 2015, then-vice president Joe Biden visited one of the company’s facilities in Newark, Calif., And declared it “the lab of the future.” Some 800 people were employed by Theranos at its peak.

The company’s fortunes began to turn in October of the same year when John Carryrou of The Wall Street Journal wrote an article claiming that Theranos was forced to use conventional blood testing methods in his research because his own Edison technology was providing erratic and inconsistent results. He was warned by a medical expert who was suspicious of the technology.

Continuing the story further, Carryrou found that the company’s seemingly innovative technology was far from out of the box and had been developed to meet the expectations of its influential investors. The equipment Joe Biden had shown was apparently not actually operational.

Ms Holmes has denied all allegations and has vigorously defended herself and the company in media appearances. However, problems with laboratory facilities, personnel and procedures prohibited him from owning, operating or directing a blood testing service for two years. Drugstore chain Walgreens has ended a relationship with the company at this point.

The problems continued to mount when Mr Carryrou published an interview with whistleblower Tyler Schultz, grandson of board member George Schultz, who alleged the company had rejected test results Edison inconvenient, thus falsifying the accuracy of the process.

Other revelations have come to light, including storing samples at incorrect temperatures and putting patients at risk due to false readings from faulty tests.

As federal investigations into the testing allegations continued in 2016, Forbes announced that Ms Holmes’ fortune, which was based on her 50 percent stake in the company, had fallen to zero.

In March 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged Ms. Holmes and Ramesh Balwani, former Theranos chairman and chief operating officer, with fraud for taking more than $ 700 million from investors while making the advertising of a fake product.

Ms. Holmes settled the SEC lawsuit, relinquishing control of Theranos’ votes, a decade-long ban from an executive position in a public company, and a fine of $ 500,000.

On June 15, 2018, following an investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California in San Francisco that lasted more than two years, a federal grand jury indicted Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani, nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Prosecutors allege the couple engaged in two criminal schemes, one to defraud investors and the other to defraud doctors and patients. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Mr Balwani and Ms Holmes have a long relationship as they met when she was still a teenager and at school. He is nineteen years older than her and they were romantically involved from 2003 until the company collapsed, although the relationship was kept under wraps.

They have different accounts of his exit from Theranos, with Ms Holmes claiming she fired him and Mr Balwani claiming he left on his own.

In early 2019, Mrs Holmes got engaged to William Evans, the heir to the Evans hotel group. They married in a private ceremony later that year and now live in San Francisco.

As prosecutors and the defense team prepared for his trial, the Covid-19 pandemic delayed proceedings as the justice system came to a halt.

In September 2020, a federal judge ordered Ms Holmes to be examined by government experts after her lawyers said they could provide proof that she suffered from an illness or mental defect.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila dismissed defense objections to allowing a government-selected psychologist and psychiatrist to examine him for 14 hours over two days. The exams were videotaped.

In March 2021, the trial was delayed for another six weeks until the end of August after Ms Holmes blinded prosecutors by announcing that she was pregnant and was due to arrive in July.

When the trial begins on Tuesday, her son will only be a few weeks old.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the defense team have a number of options, including pursuing the aforementioned ‘mental illness’ argument, or even claiming that they are only guilty of optimism and that they truly believed in Theranos and therefore did not mislead anyone.

It’s unclear if she will testify, but she would only need to persuade one juror of her side of events for the trial to end with a suspended jury.

Any plea deal at the end of the day would likely involve cooperation with prosecutors in their case against Mr Balwani, whose trial is scheduled for early next year. It would also still likely involve a long prison sentence.

Ms Holmes and the Theranos scandal were the subjects of the HBO documentary The inventor: in search of blood in Silicon Valley.

A dramatization of Ms Holmes’ life is being turned into a Hulu TV miniseries titled The dropout. It is based on the Rebecca Jarvis and ABC Radio podcast of the same name and will star Amanda Seyfried.

The Independent Gt

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