Ex-Theranos CEO Makes Court Appearance in Fraud Case

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, speaks at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco on Nov. 2, 2015. On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges against Holmes and her company for defrauding investors. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – Disgraced former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes made a court appearance in a criminal case against her Monday, navigating a phalanx of television cameras and a large media presence at the federal courthouse in San Jose.

The hearing largely featured housekeeping matters, but the rhetoric from the attorneys on both sides indicate the criminal case involving fraud charges is likely headed for a lengthy trial as soon as early summer 2020.

“It will be a long trial requiring a lot of coordination,” said Holmes’ attorney Kevin Downey during the hearing.

Holmes appeared alongside Downey and a few other attorneys, dressed in a light gray pantsuit and pale blue blouse, smiling frequently while conferring with attorneys and betraying little consternation as she made her way past reporters to stand before U.S. District Judge Edward Davila.

Holmes is facing fraud charges connected to her time as CEO of the blood testing company Theranos. The federal government says Holmes and her former right-hand man, Ramesh Balwani, mislead investors and potential customers by greatly exaggerating the effectiveness and accuracy of innovate blood tests that could purportedly diagnose conditions based on small samples derived from a finger prick.  

U.S. Attorney Robert Schenk asked Davila to set a trial date for at least a year from now given the large amounts of discovery in the case, some of which is still being processed according to attorneys for both sides.

Downey asked the court to wait until after a June 10 hearing set to resolve ongoing discovery disputes and other housekeeping issues.

“The government has produced about 20 million documents already,” said U.S. Attorney John Bostic, adding the government is in the process of communicating with other agencies to expedite further document requests made by the defense.

Given the voluminous amount of discovery, Downey suggested waiting until the July 1 status update to set a date for the trial.

Davila granted the defense’s request and said he would consider setting a trial date in July.

Neither side indicated a plea deal is possible or even being discussed.

“We ask the court to set a trial date to help crystallize the issues before us and because we expect this case to require 40 trial days, and getting 2 months set aside on the court calendar is not easy,” Schenk said.

Holmes could serve a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.

She settled a civil suit with the Securities and Exchange Commission in March, agreeing to pay $500,000 in fines and refraining from serving in a leadership position with any company for a decade.

She is reported to be living in San Francisco as she awaits trial.

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