Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes' criminal fraud case heads to the jury

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Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes' criminal fraud case heads to the jury
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes arrives to attend her fraud trial at federal court in San Jose, California, U.S., December 16, 2021.Peter DaSilva/Reuters
  • Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes' fraud case was with the jury after closing arguments ended Friday.
  • The group of 8 men and 4 women will deliberate to decide Holmes' fate after 15 weeks of trial.
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After 15 weeks of trial, Elizabeth Holmes' fate now rests in a jury's hands.

The Theranos founder's criminal fraud case headed to a jury of eight men and four women late Friday after the prosecution and defense wrapped up their closing arguments, according to a report from CNBC.

In those arguments this week, prosecutors said Holmes "chose fraud over business failure" and "chose to be dishonest."

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"Elizabeth Holmes had a choice to make," said Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Schenk, according to KRON4. "She could watch Theranos slowly fail, or she could make a different decision. Holmes made a decision to defraud her investors and patients."

In the defense's closing arguments, attorney Kevin Downey said the government honed in on particular events to make things at Theranos look bad but that "at the end of the day, when all the evidence flows together, it isn't so bad," according to BuzzFeed News.

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"Elizabeth Holmes was building a business, not a criminal enterprise," Downey continued. "Her interest was not in making money. It was to bring this technology to the world."

Holmes is charged with nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison for each count, as well as a $250,000 fine per count and restitution. The jury is expected to deliberate into next week and possibly longer.

Holmes' trial has featured testimony from ex-employees who described serious testing issues but say their concerns were ignored. Investors have said they were lured by claims that the startup was doing far better financially than it actually was, that the military was actively using the company's devices, and that pharmaceutical companies had validated Theranos' technology, all of which are now known to be false. Theranos patients and their doctors have also taken the stand, emotionally recounting mistakes like a false positive HIV test result and an inaccurate indication of a miscarriage.

Holmes dropped out of Stanford University at 19 to build Theranos. The now-defunct startup was said to be able to run hundreds of tests with just a few drops of blood from a finger prick. It boasted a $9 billion valuation at its peak, earning Holmes the title of youngest self-made female billionaire in 2015. Things came crashing down on Theranos later that year when The Wall Street Journal published an investigation revealing the company wasn't capable of doing as many tests as advertised and leaned heavily on commercial analyzers instead of its proprietary devices.

The government alleges Holmes and Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, her ex-boyfriend and Theranos' former president and COO, misled investors, patients, and doctors by making false claims about Theranos' blood-testing abilities, hiding information about testing issues and limitations, and misrepresenting Theranos' finances, all while knowing about at least some of Theranos' problems with tests and finances.

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Balwani faces the same charges as Holmes. His trial is set to begin in February.

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