Opening statements in the case of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the blood testing start-up Theranos, are set to begin in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday morning, kicking off one of Silicon Valley’s most anticipated trials.
Ms. Holmes, 37, has been charged with 12 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with money she raised for Theranos, which dissolved in 2018 after its blood tests were revealed to have problems.
A jury will decide whether Ms. Holmes, who founded Theranos in 2003 and hawked a mission of revolutionizing health care, lied to investors about her company’s technology.
Ms. Holmes claimed Theranos’s machines, called Edison, could quickly conduct a wide range of blood tests using just a drop of blood. The United States has accused Ms. Holmes of knowing that the tests were limited and unreliable, harming patients who relied on them. Prosecutors also said she overstated Theranos’s business deals and performance.
Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of the blood testing start-up Theranos, stands trial soon for two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud.
Here are some of the key figures in the case →
Theranos’s former president, Ramesh Balwani, known as Sunny, is being tried in a separate case set to begin next year. Both Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani have pleaded not guilty. Judge Edward Davila of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is presiding over the cases.
If convicted, Ms. Holmes could face up to 20 years in jail, which would make her one of the few Silicon Valley executives accused of wrongdoing to ever go to jail.
The trial caps years of delays and legal squabbles over everything from which emails and arguments can be used to whether Ms. Holmes should be required to wear a mask while sitting in the courtroom.
Last week, a jury of seven men and five women was sworn in after weeding out many potential jurors who had either heard of Ms. Holmes, had direct experience with domestic abuse or had scheduling issues for the three-month trial.
Ms. Holmes’s lawyers have indicated that they may use a mental health defense, arguing that Mr. Balwani, whom she dated, was emotionally and physically abusive, which prevented her from intending to deceive. Mr. Balwani has denied the accusations. Ms. Holmes’s lawyers have also indicated in court filings that she is likely to take the stand.
In court documents filed over the weekend, prosecutors listed more than 200 potential witnesses including David Boies, Theranos’s former lawyer; Henry Kissinger, who sat on Theranos’s board; James Mattis, the former defense secretary and a Theranos director; and Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul, who backed Theranos and was part of a lawsuit over its demise. Some names were displayed as initials.
Ms. Holmes’s lawyers listed more than 60 witnesses, including several of the U.S. attorneys on the case; John Carreyrou, a reporter and the author of a book about Theranos; William Frist, the former U.S. Senator who sat on the Theranos board; and Ms. Holmes.
In a separate filing, lawyers for Ms. Holmes also asked that testimony from three former Theranos employees be excluded. One of the witnesses, Erika Cheung, worked in Theranos’s lab and reported problems with its blood testing to federal regulators. Ms. Holmes’s lawyers argued that various parts of Ms. Cheung’s testimony would be irrelevant, based on hearsay or not directly connected to Ms. Holmes.
Ms. Holmes’s lawyers also asked to exclude testimony from Daniel Edlin, a former project manager at the company, and Danise Yam, Theranos’s corporate controller for 11 years.
Prosecutors responded with exhibits backing up Ms. Cheung’s claims. On Tuesday, Judge Davila ordered that such an exclusion would be “premature” ahead of hearing the government’s questions or argument.
The Biden administration said on Tuesday that it would provide $700 million in grants to meatpacking, farm and grocery-store workers to help defray some of the financial hardships the essential employees have faced during the pandemic.
The grants will be distributed to state agencies, tribal entities and nonprofit groups that typically support these workers, who were required to go in to work even amid the most deadly outbreaks of the coronavirus. The groups will be eligible to receive grants of up to $50 million, which they can distribute to workers, particularly “hard to reach” communities of immigrants who often work in the meatpacking plants and on commercial farms.
The Agriculture Department said the money could be used to help workers cover the cost of pandemic-related expenses such as personal protective equipment and dependent care and expenses associated with quarantines and testing for the virus. Eligible workers can receive up to $600. At least $20 million in grants will be set aside for grocery workers.
“We recognize that our farmworkers, meatpacking workers and grocery workers overcame unprecedented challenges and took on significant personal risk to ensure Americans could feed and sustain their families throughout the pandemic,” the secretary of agriculture, Tom Vilsack, said in a statement.
Price gains have become a source of annoyance among consumers and worry among policymakers who are concerned that rapid price gains might last. It is one of the main factors central bankers are looking at as they decide when — and how quickly — to return monetary policy to normal.
You may have noticed that you’re paying more for lots of things. Inflation has become a hot topic, but the question is whether it will last.
The items with the biggest increases may hold the answer →
Most policymakers believe that today’s rapid inflation will fade. But there is a danger that the global price surge could last longer — and become more country-specific — if workers in nations experiencing high inflation today bargain for wage increases and are more accepting of steadily higher prices. Bringing entrenched inflation back under control could require painful monetary policy responses, ones that would probably plunge national economies back into recession.
If inflation does fade as policymakers expect, the current burst could actually offer benefits. READ THE ARTICLE →