Disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asks judge to overturn convictions

Convicted healthcare tech fraudster Elizabeth Holmes is asking a judge to overturn jurors’ decision, arguing that there was “insufficient” evidence for them to reach their “guilty” verdicts, according to recent court papers.

Holmes, the 38-year-old founder and former CEO of Theranos, was convicted in January on three counts of wire fraud and one counts of conspiracy to commit fraud. But the jury’s decision should be thrown out because “the evidence is insufficient to sustain the convictions,” Holmes’ attorneys argued in a motion on Friday.

“Because no rational juror could have found the elements of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud beyond a reasonable doubt on this record, the Court should grant Ms. Holmes’ motion for judgment of acquittal,” the filing, “Ms. Holmes’ Reply In Support Of Motion For Judgment Of Acquittal,” further states.

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Holmes was acquitted on four other counts of fraud and conspiracy that alleged she deceived patients who paid for Theranos blood tests. The jury deadlocked on three remaining charges.

The verdict came after the eight men and four women on the jury spent three months sitting through a complex trial that featured reams of evidence and 32 witnesses — including Holmes herself.

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Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison, but is free on $500,000 bail while awaiting her sentencing scheduled for September.

“No rational fact finder could find that the government proved conspiracy to commit wire fraud beyond a reasonable doubt,” Friday’s document further argues. It later adds: “No rational juror could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Holmes and Mr. [Ramesh “Sunny”] Balwani conspired to defraud Theranos investors through the false representations alleged in the Indictment.”

Federal prosecutors depicted Holmes as a charlatan obsessed with fame and fortune. In seven days on the witness stand, she cast herself as a visionary trailblazer in male-dominated Silicon Valley who was emotionally and sexually abused by her former lover and business partner, Sunny Balwani. Balwani was Theranos’ chief operating officer from 2009 to 2016.

The bold dream Holmes pursued when she founded Theranos in 2003 at the age of 19 had become a nightmare by the time she was indicted on felony charges in 2018.

WHAT IS THERANOS?

During that span, Holmes went from an unknown to a Silicon Valley sensation who had amassed a $4.5 billion fortune on paper to a vilified failure. Her downfall was dissected in documentaries, books, podcasts and will soon be rehashed in a Hulu TV series called “The Dropout” starring Amanda Seyfried in the lead role.

Holmes set out to create a less painful, more convenient and cheaper way to scan for hundreds of diseases and other health problems by taking just a few drops of blood with a finger prick instead of inserting a needle in a vein. She aimed to upend an industry dominated by giant testing companies such as Quest Diagnostics and Labcorp, starting with setting up “mini-labs” in Walgreens and Safeway stores across the US that would use a small Theranos device called the Edison to run faster, less intrusive blood tests.

The concept — and the way Holmes presented it — enthralled wealthy investors eager to buy an early stake in a game-changing company. It helped Theranos raise more than $900 million.

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What most people did not know at the time was that Theranos’ blood-testing technology kept producing misleading results. That forced patients to undergo regular blood draws instead of the promised finger sticks and led Theranos to secretly test those samples using conventional machines in a traditional laboratory setting. Evidence presented at the trial also showed that Holmes lied about purported deals that Theranos had reached with big drug companies such as Pfizer and the US military.

The deception came to light in 2015 after a series of explosive articles in The Wall Street Journal and a regulatory audit of Theranos uncovered potentially dangerous flaws in the company’s technology, leading to its eventual collapse.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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