Trial of Elizabeth Holmes Set for Summer 2020

In this Nov. 2, 2015, file photo, Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, speaks at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of the blood-testing company Theranos who is facing multiple fraud and conspiracy charges, appeared in court in San Jose on Friday for a hearing in which a federal judge established the date of what figures to be a sprawling three-month trial. 

The federal government has accused Holmes and her right-hand man, Ramesh Balwani, of engaging in multiple acts of fraud by misleading investors and customers regarding the effectiveness of a blood testing technology that could purportedly give individuals lab results from a single drop of blood. 

Throngs of television cameras were stationed outside the San Jose Courthouse Friday morning, where, inside, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila said the trial would begin next summer.

Jury selection is slated for July 28, 2020, and attorneys are expected to begin presenting evidence Aug. 4, 2020. The government said it will require about 90 days to prosecute its case against Holmes and Balwani, which will likely involve a raft of evidence and slew of witnesses.

Meanwhile, the two sides continue to spar over the speed of discovery submission. 

Attorneys for Holmes asked Davila to compel the government to produce a voluminous set of documents it said was necessary for a fair defense of the accused. 

“The documents we are seeking are at the core of the case,” Holmes’ attorney Lance Way said during the hearing. 

John Bostic, arguing for the government, said the prosecution is producing documents as fast as possible but must wait for attorneys from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services to appropriately vet the documents. 

Davila eventually effected a compromise instead of issuing an order to compel the government to produce documents, but he said he wanted things to move expeditiously forward in the next three weeks or he would issue such an order. 

“I want this process to get forward,” Davila said. 

Holmes’ exploits and fall from grace – Forbes recognized her as the world’s youngest self-made billionaire in 2014 – have fascinated the general public, and provided enough fodder for a book, podcast series and two competing documentaries.

Holmes and Balwani face two charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine separate counts of wire fraud that could carry a maximum of 20 years in prison and $2.7 million in fines. 

Holmes founded Theranos in 2003 and soon attracted a who’s who of investors and backers. Charles Schultz, Henry Kissinger and Jim Mattis served on the company’s board. 

The health technology entreprenuer’s empire began to unravel in 2016 after John Carreyrou of the Wall Street Journal wrote the first of several articles to question the validity of Theranos’ blood testing technology. 

Holmes, Balwani and others associated with the company proclaimed their blood tests could give reliable results to customers based on a prick of a finger. In fact, the test could only produce results related to a narrow range of health metrics and suffered from reliability issues. 

When Carryrou wrote his first article in October 2015, Holmes was worth an estimated $4.5 billion. By June of the following year, she was virtually bankrupt.

The company has since been liquidated. 

Prosecutors say Holmes and Balwani, who were previously in a romantic relationship, spent years lying about the capability of their blood testing technology, defrauding investors, board members and corporate partners like Safeway, Walgreens and the Cleveland Clinic.

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