Founder of now defunct clinical laboratory testing company was supposed to report to prison April 27, but a last-minute legal challenge has delayed that judge’s order
Anatomic pathologists and clinical laboratory leaders who are following the continuing saga of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes may be interested to learn that the former CEO’s attorneys are making last-minute legal moves to delay her prison sentence while she appeals her guilty verdict. At the same time, Holmes appears to be on a mission to revamp her public image.
Apparently, the twists and turns in Holmes’ never-ending story are not yet over when it comes to Theranos, its maligned clinical laboratory technology, and the company’s convicted founder.
On May 7, The New York Times (NYT) profiled Holmes in a massive, 5,000-word story that attempted to portray her as a flawed businessperson who now prefers a simpler life with her partner and two young children.
“I made so many mistakes and there was so much I didn’t know and understand, and I feel like when you do it wrong, it’s like you really internalize it in a deep way,” disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes recently told The New York Times. Anatomic pathologists and clinical laboratory directors impacted by the revelation that Theranos hide the fact that its blood testing technology was faulty may not sympathize with Holmes’ position. (Photo copyright: Stuart Isett/Fortune Global Forum.)
Legal Team Secures Last-Minute Delay in Holmes’ Surrender
Holmes admitted to the news outlet that the deep voice she used in public, along with her black turtleneck sweaters, were part of a character she created.
“I believed it would be how I would be good at business and taken seriously and not taken as a little girl or a girl who didn’t have good technical ideas,” Holmes told the NYT. “Maybe people picked up on that not being authentic, since it wasn’t.”
However, on April 26, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed her surrender date until that court rules on Holmes’ latest bid to stay free while she appeals her conviction, The Washington Post reported.
Just days earlier on April 10, a district court judge ruled that Holmes would not stay free while her appeal progresses. The 9th Circuit announcement curtailed the district court ruling. It is not known when the 9th Circuit will issue a decision in the matter.
New York Times Reports on Holmes’ Change in Personality
The somewhat odd New York Times profile of Holmes varied between reflections on her past crimes and on her current personal life, where she is known as “Liz.”
“In case you’re wondering, Holmes speaks in a soft, slightly low, but totally unremarkable voice—no hint of the throaty contralto she used while running her blood-testing startup Theranos, now defunct,” the NYT reported.
Holmes still lives in California with her partner, Billy Evans (whose parents own a luxury hotel chain), and their two children: a son who is almost two years old and a daughter born in February. She works at home for a rape-crisis hotline.
Balwani, Theranos’ former President and Chief Operating Officer, began his 12-year, 11-month prison sentence on April 20 in a Southern California facility for his role in defrauding Theranos investors, KTVU TV reported. Balwani has also appealed his conviction on the 12 fraud charges.
Holmes reiterated to the NYT past statements she made in court that Balwani allegedly exerted social and sexual control over her when they both worked at Theranos and were in a romantic relationship.
“She lived by entrepreneurial tenets that she said Balwani told her she needed to follow in order to succeed,” the NYT reported. “These included not sleeping for more than five hours, going vegan, getting to the office daily by 5 a.m., no alcohol.”
“[I] deferred to [Balwani] in the areas he oversaw because I believed he knew better than I did,” including on clinical lab activities at Theranos, Holmes said.
Balwani’s attorneys dismissed Holmes’ allegations, as they have in the past.
Clinical laboratory professionals can reasonably make two broad observations from the continuing saga of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes:
Justice for healthcare crimes is often deferred for those who have influence and money.
Holmes’ image overhaul may be a last-ditch effort to sway public opinion about her, in the event that she receives a new jury trial as a result of her appeal.
Dark Daily will continue to keep you updated on further developments in this case.
New lawsuit contends that the promissory notes Holmes allegedly issued on behalf of defunct clinical laboratory company Theranos are now overdue
Just weeks before Elizabeth Holmes is scheduled to begin her prison term for conviction in the federal investor fraud case related to now-defunct clinical laboratory company Theranos, the long-running legal saga of the former company founder/CEO continues to bring new twists.
This time, news emerged via a lawsuit that Holmes allegedly owes $25 million to Theranos creditors. CNBC obtained a copy of the suit and detailed its contents in a March 17 case update.
Theranos ABC, a company set up on behalf of the creditors, alleged in the lawsuit that “Holmes has not made any payments on account of any of the promissory notes,” CNBC reported. The suit was filed in Superior Court of California Count of Santa Clara.
Elizabeth Holmes (above), founder and former CEO of clinical laboratory company Theranos with husband Billy Evans of Evans Hotels. Holmes lives with Evans and the couple’s two children in the area near San Jose, California. Holmes gave birth to her second baby in February, according to People. In January, Holmes was convicted on three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. In addition to restitution, Holmes has been ordered to spend up to 11 years and three months in prison. (Photo copyright: Axios.)
Holmes Allegedly Issued Three Promissory Notes
The complaint stated that Holmes allegedly executed the following three promissory notes while she was still CEO at Theranos:
August 2011 in the amount of $9,159,333.65.
December 2011 in the amount of $7,578,575.52.
December 2013 in the amount of $9,129,991.10.
A promissory note is a written promise to pay a party a certain sum of money with a specified due date for the repayment of principal and interest.
“Theranos ABC has demanded payment of promissory note one and promissory note two from Holmes, but Holmes has failed to pay any amounts on account of promissory note,” according to the lawsuit, CNBC reported. The first two notes are overdue, and the third note is due in December.
Elizabeth Holmes’ Prison Term Could Be Delayed
News of the lawsuit, which was filed in December 2022, came to light at a court hearing on March 17. During that hearing, Judge Edward Davila heard arguments about whether Holmes should remain free pending her appeal. She is otherwise scheduled to report to prison on April 27 to begin her sentence after being convicted in January 2022 of defrauding Theranos investors.
Davila, who oversaw Holmes’ criminal case, is expected to issue a decision about her freedom during the appeal early this month. The judge is also weighing options for Holmes to pay restitution to her victims.
Prosecutors have asked that she pay back $878 million to Theranos’ former investors and other victims, according to court records reviewed by Dark Daily. The government has argued in court papers that Holmes continues to live a wealthy lifestyle despite her claiming she has no meaningful assets since the collapse of Theranos and her trial.
“Defendant has lived on an estate for over a year where, based upon the monthly cash flow statement defendant provided to the US Probation Office, monthly expenses exceed $13,000 per month,” according to court documents filed by prosecutors ahead of the March 17 hearing. “Defendant asserted that her partner pays the monthly bills rather than her but also listed her significant other’s salary as ‘$0.’”
Holmes’ attorneys argued that the government cannot take an “all or nothing” approach to restitution, and that payments should only be made to investors who testified during the trial, the Associated Press reported.
“The chance of full recovery is very low,” the DOJ notes. “Many defendants will not have sufficient assets to repay their victims. Many defendants owe very large amounts of restitution to a large number of victims. In federal cases, restitution in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars is not unusual. While defendants may make partial payments toward the full restitution owed, it is rare that defendants are able to fully pay the entire restitution amount owed.”
Clinical laboratory professionals will note the irony that one of the biggest convicted fraudsters in US history is now largely attempting to avoid punishments associated with her crimes. If Judge Davila agrees to let Holmes remain free pending her appeal, she could stay out of prison for years and perhaps not have to pay restitution for that length of time as well.
The coming weeks will prove to be pivotal in the final outcome of the case.
Judge will decide the restitution Holmes must pay to defrauded Theranos investors at future court date; Ex-COO Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani to be sentenced next month
Clinical laboratory leaders and anatomic pathologists who closely followed the fraud trial of Elizabeth Holmes may have wondered how the Theranos founder and ex-CEO would be punished for her crimes. Now we know.
Late into the four-hour sentencing hearing, Holmes tearfully spoke, according to a twitter post by NBC reporter Scott Budman, who was in the courtroom. “I am devastated by my failings,” Holmes said. “I have felt deep pain for what people went through because I have failed them … To investors, patients, I am sorry.”
Davila ordered Holmes to surrender to authorities on April 27 to begin her time behind bars. She is free until that time. Her upcoming prison term caps off one of the biggest downfalls ever of an American entrepreneur.
Elizabeth Holmes (above), founder and former CEO of Theranos, the now defunct clinical laboratory company, as she enters the federal courthouse in San Jose, Calif., prior to her sentencing on Friday. In January, Holmes was convicted on three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. Last summer, Theranos’ former CLIA laboratory director, pathologist Adam Rosendorff, MD, expressed remorse over his testimony which led to Holmes’ defense team requesting a new trial. The judge denied that request and allowed the sentencing of Holmes to proceed as scheduled. (Photo copyright: Jim Wilson/The New York Times.)
Defense Lawyers Plan to Appeal
Dean Johnson, JD, a California criminal defense lawyer, told NBC Bay Area News during live coverage of the hearing on Friday that Holmes’ defense team will appeal her conviction.
“I have no doubt there will be an appeal in this case,” Johnson said.
Judge Edward Davila, who oversaw Holmes’ trial and sentencing hearing in US District Court in San Jose, Calif., estimated that the total loss for Theranos investors was $121 million. Investors had committed funds to support the company’s flawed Edison blood testing technology. A separate restitution hearing for Holmes will be scheduled for a later date.
Beyond the sentencing, Holmes, 38, will be saddled by infamy for the rest of her life, with her past reputation as a charismatic innovator ruined.
“The judge [said] evidence shows Elizabeth Holmes was leader of the company, but not necessarily the leader of the criminal acts,” Budman tweeted. Those words clearly pointed to Balwani, who Holmes’ defense team had painted as exerting control over her and the company.
Prosecutors Sought a Stiffer Sentence for Holmes
Prosecutors had asked Davila to sentence Holmes to 15 years in prison, arguing that her conviction represented “one of the most substantial white collar offenses Silicon Valley or any other district has seen,” according to NBC Bay Area News, which cited court documents. The government also wanted her to pay $803 million in restitution.
Holmes’ defense team, however, wished for no prison time at all, instead asking that Holmes serve time under house arrest. “If a period of confinement is necessary, the defense suggests that a term of 18 months or less, with a subsequent supervised release period that requires community service, will amply meet that charge,” her lawyers wrote in a court filing.
Prior to the sentencing, Davila received 130 letters supporting Holmes and asking for leniency, NPR reported. Among them was a note from William “Billy” Evans, Holmes’ partner.
“If you are to know Liz, it is to know that she is honest, humble, selfless, and kind beyond what most people have ever experienced,” Evans wrote, NPR reported. “Please let her be free.”
Holmes and Evans have a 16-month-old son together, and she is pregnant with the couple’s second child. Her first pregnancy caused her trial to be rescheduled. Prior to last week’s sentencing, some reporters covering the trial speculated that because Holmes was the mother of an infant—and now pregnant again—the judge might be more lenient in sentencing. The 11-year, four-month sentence indicates that the judge was not much influenced by that factor.
Last Minute Pitch for New Trial Failed
Holmes’ legal wranglings continued until the very end.
However, Rosendorff later told the court that he stood by his testimony about problems with Theranos’ blood testing technology.
In denying the request for a new trial, Davila wrote, “The court finds Dr. Rosendorff’s statements under oath to be credible,” according to The Washington Post.
From Teen Founder to Disgraced Entrepreneur
Holmes founded Theranos in 2003 at age 19 while she was attending Stanford University as a chemical engineering major. She dropped out of Stanford as a sophomore to focus on her new company.
Theranos claimed its technology—known as Edison—could perform diagnostics tests using a finger prick and a micro-specimen vial instead of a needle and several Vacutainers of blood. The company said it could return results to patients and clinicians in four hours for about half of the cost of typical lab test fees.
However, the promise of this technology began to unravel in 2015 following an investigative article by The Wall Street Journal that revealed the company ran only a handful of tests using its technology, instead relying on traditional testing for most of its specimen work.
Fortunately, the Theranos saga has not stunted investment in healthcare technology startups. Spending was in the tens of billions in 2021, although that number has dropped this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has waned, according to TechCrunch. Nevertheless, it is safe to assume that healthcare tech investors are scrutinizing scientific data from startups more thoroughly because of the Theranos fraud case.
Meanwhile, the saga of Theranos continues to leave a bad taste in the mouths of many clinical laboratory managers and pathologists. That’s because, during the peak period of adulation and spectacular news coverage about Elizabeth Holmes and her plans to totally disrupt the clinical laboratory industry, hospital and health system CEOs believed that they would be able to downsize their in-house medical laboratories and obtain lab tests from Theranos at savings of 50% or more. Consequently, during the years 2013 through the end of 2015, some hospital lab leaders saw requests for capital investment in their labs denied or delayed.
In later years, Cosgrove admitted that no one at Cleveland Clinic or its pathologists were allowed to examine the analyzers and evaluate the technology.
It was for these reasons that the demise of Theranos was welcomed by many hospital lab administrators and pathologists. The fact that two of Theranos’ senior executives have been convicted of fraud validates many of the serious concerns that medical laboratory professionals had at that time, but which most major news reporters and media ignored and failed to report to the public.
Former Vice President received an exclusive tour of a completely fake medical testing laboratory within Theranos, which he found “most impressive”
One thing clinical laboratory leaders and pathologists may still be curious about concerning the whole Theranos affair is how the company founder Elizabeth Holmes could fool so many high-ranking individuals—including then Vice President Joe Biden—into endorsing a completely fraudulent medical laboratory test process.
But it was the lengths to which Holmes and Balwani went to “trick” Joe Biden into endorsing Theranos—and subsequently receive the positive press that followed—that MSN found most intriguing.
According to MSN, in July of 2015 Holmes and Balwani procured Biden’s endorsement by giving the VP a tour of a “completely fake, staged lab.”
“What’s most impressive to me is you’re not only making these lab tests more accessible, you’re charging historically low prices, which is a small fraction of what is charged now, while maintaining the highest standards, and empowering people whether they live in the barrio or a mansion, putting them in a position to help take control of their own health,” stated then VP Joe Biden (above with Elizabeth Holmes) in a Theranos press release. Sadly, many clinical laboratory leaders who were skeptical and outspoken about Theranos’ claims were ignored by the press. (Photo copyright: ABC News.)
Wall Street Journal Reporter Exposes Theranos Fraud
According to a 2018 article by John Carreyrou which was part of his expose´ of Theranos published in The Wall Street Journal, “Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani wanted to impress Vice President Biden with a vision of a cutting-edge, automated laboratory. Instead of showing him the actual lab with its commercial analyzers, they created a fake one, according to former employees who worked in Newark. They made the microbiology team vacate a room it occupied, had it repainted, and lined its walls with rows of [Theranos] miniLabs stacked up on metal shelves.”
And the ruse worked. A 2015 Theranos press release outlined the visit at the time and stated that Biden found the facility inspiring and was impressed by the work being done by the company.
“I just had a short tour and I’m glad because you can see first-hand what innovation is all about just walking through this facility. This is the laboratory of the future,” Biden said in the press release.
In 2015, then Vice President Joe Biden toured the Theranos facility with Elizabeth Holmes, observed their supposedly innovative finger stick test system, and met with several Theranos employees. Later reports exposing the fraud stated that Holmes and Balwani were desperate to obtain Biden’s approval as it would provide positive press for Theranos, a good reputation within the industry, and lure potential investors. Theranos later tweeted a photo (above) of the visit showing Biden and Holmes walking amongst numbered blood-testing machines with a huge Theranos logo banner in the background. (Photo copyright: Connor Radnovich/The Chronicle.)
Biden’s visit occurred just a few months before Carreyrou’s Wall Street Journal report questioned the efficacy of Theranos’ blood testing technology and alleged the lab testing company tried to cover up its failures and mislead investors and patients.
Prior to that hard-hitting exposé, Holmes was heralded by the media as a star in the field of medicine. She was even prominently featured on magazine covers of influential business periodicals such as Fortune, Forbes, and Inc.
Others Who Were Bamboozled by Holmes and Balwani
Biden was not the only high-profile individual who was fooled by Holmes, Balwani and their billion-dollar con job. Other high-profile people included:
Theranos ceased operations in September of 2018 amidst the exposing of the fraud and inability to locate a buyer for the company. The shutdown rendered all investments in the company worthless.
Holmes to Receive New Hearing in Federal Court
In January of this year, Holmes was found guilty of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for lying to investors about Theranos products. She faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 plus restitution for each count.
And so, clinical laboratory leaders and pathologists now have a better idea as to how Joe Biden was hoodwinked and endorsed a completely fake blood testing laboratory at Theranos. Can he be blamed for his ignorance of clinical laboratory test technology? Probably not. But it makes for interesting reading.
Issues arose after a pathologist who once was the clinical laboratory director at Theranos suggested his testimony during the trial was misconstrued by federal prosecutors
Just when clinical laboratory directors and pathology group managers thought they could look forward to a world without an ongoing Theranos fraud trial, company founder and ex-CEO Elizabeth Holmes requested a new trial. Her request was based on comments by pathologist and former Theranos lab director Adam Rosendorff, MD, that he was remorseful about his testimony in Holmes’ fraud trial.
Now, it appears the court will hear Holmes’ argument. On October 4, a federal judge agreed to delay Holmes’ sentencing to consider new evidence that was submitted to the court in a September filing and further evaluate her request for a new trial.
In that filing, Holmes claimed that Rosendorff visited her home on August 8 to express regret over his testimony. According to Holmes, Rosendorff alleged that his statements had been misconstrued by prosecutors at her trial. He stated that “he tried to answer the questions honestly, but that the prosecutors tried to make everyone look bad” and he now feels like “he had done something wrong,” The Guardian reported.
Theranos founder and ex-CEO Elizabeth Holmes (left) as she was seen entering the federal courthouse in San Jose, Calif., on Sept. 1 to argue that her trail verdict should be overturned due to new comments from pathologist and former lab director Adam Rosendorff, PhD, who expressed remorse over his original testimony. Clinical laboratory managers may want to track these new developments in the unfolding saga of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes. (Photo copyright: AP/Daily Mail.)
Pathologist Rosendorff’s Testimony about Holmes
Rosendorff, the pathologist who served as the CLIA laboratory director at Theranos for several years, was a major witness for the prosecution in the Holmes trial which lasted nearly four months. During his four-day testimony, he contended that Holmes was cognizant of accuracy issues with Theranos’ blood-testing device and that she intentionally misled both investors and patients.
In January, a jury found Holmes guilty of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for lying to investors about Theranos products. The jury of eight men and four women deliberated for more than 50 hours over seven days to arrive at the verdict. She faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 plus restitution for each count.
The new hearing regarding the issues with Rosendorff’s testimony will occur on October 17, the original date of Holmes’ sentencing. Davila stated that he has scheduled an entire day for hearing, but that he expects it to take less than the full allotted day.
Judge Wants to Know If Former Theranos Lab Director Told the Truth
If her request for a new trial is denied, Holmes will be sentenced sometime between November and January. She is currently free on bail while awaiting her sentencing.
Regarding the latest development, Davila stated that it was unusual for a witness to appear at a convicted defendant’s home. “I will say I haven’t seen a case where this happened before,” Davila told CNN.
“What the court wants to know is, Dr. Rosendorff, do you feel the government manipulated you in the preparation or in any way in regards to your testimony?” Davila said about what will be covered in the October 17 hearing. “What I want to know is, did you tell the truth?”
After Holmes used Rosendorff’s appearance at her home to request a new trial, the former Theranos lab director filed a sworn declaration with the court on September 21 that he stands by his testimony “in every respect.”
“Nevertheless, I feel compassion for Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani, and even more so for the members of their families who were not responsible for their conduct but will be affected by the punishment they may receive,” he wrote.