A new court filing in Elizabeth Holmes' fraud trial shows texts to her ex-boyfriend and former COO that could play a key role in prosecuting the Theranos founder
- Prosecutors have released some of
Elizabeth Holmes' texts with former TheranosCOO Ramesh Balwani.
- The texts shed light on their past relationship and efforts to manage crises threatening Theranos.
- A law professor explains how both the defense and the prosecution might try to frame the texts.
"All my love." "Missing you infinite."
So went one text exchange between Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes and Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, who was once her boyfriend, as well as the president and chief operating officer of Theranos.
Prosecutors in Holmes' highly anticipated fraud trial released six pages of text correspondence from the former couple on Tuesday that offer a glimpse into their romantic relationship. They also provide a window into their apparent scramble to go on the offense against those who threatened to raise allegations that the company misrepresented its tests.
All the messages released in the filing were sent between May and July 2015, not long before Theranos' catastrophic implosion.
- "You are breeze in desert for me. My water. And ocean," Holmes wrote in one series of texts to Balwani.
- "Madly in love with you and your strength," Holmes texted Balwani later that evening.
- "CCed on you terrible negative review from someone from Newark lab probably bugs lab. Working on getting that removed," Balwani said in a text. "I saw it. We'll get them," Holmes responded. (Theranos used to have a lab in Newark, California.)
- "Feel like the luckiest person in the world BC I have you," Holmes texted later that day.
- "We will come up with good response to the questions and we can turn this around," Balwani said in another message.
- "Need to get ahead of all of it. Out of al challenges are greatest opportunities," Holmes texted. "Once and for all transcend all the bs," she added later.
- "All my love," Balwani wrote. "Missing you infinite," Holmes replied.
The release of the texts could throw a wrench in Holmes' plans to accuse Balwani of abuse as part of her defense strategy. Previous court filings suggested that Holmes would say Balwani, who will face his own fraud
"The texts paint a picture of a couple who are loving, value each other's thoughts, and are mutually engaged in a common pursuit," Cheryl Bader, a law professor at Fordham Law School and former assistant US attorney, said. "I think the jury will read these texts as evidence of a coequal partnership in a close and loving relationship."
Bader predicted some ways in which both the prosecution and the defense may try to use the
"These texts are a strategic-planning thread peppered with expressions of affection and mutual admiration that the prosecution will argue undermines Holmes' claim that that she was being controlled and abused," Bader added. "The defense will caution the jury not to read too much into a text thread and may argue that if anything, it shows how devoted, dependent, and controlled Holmes was by Balwani."
In other texts from the filing, Holmes and Balwani appear to discuss strategies to undercut concerns raised by former Theranos employees, including the whistleblowers Tyler Shultz and Erika Cheung.
They also talk over how they'll handle reporting from John Carreyrou that Theranos tests didn't work as advertised. Months after the texts were sent, Carreyrou published a blockbuster investigation saying Theranos' devices could perform only a fraction of the tests the company said they could.
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