After years of anticipation, media coverage and documentaries the Elizabeth Holmes trial has finally begun.
For some background, Elizabeth Holmes is the former founder and C.E.O. of the Silicon Valley blood-testing start-up Theranos. She founded Theranos at age 19, after dropping out of Stanford. Elizabeth Holmes and her former lover and colleague, Sunny Balwani, are on trial accused of leading a massive fraud, lying to investors, patients, doctors, and the public about Theranos’ blood-testing technology.
The government seeks to convict Ms. Holmes on two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, and ten counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. If convicted, Holmes faces 20 years in prison on each count.
For some additional background, Theranos raised more than $700 million in investor capital and closed huge deals with Walgreens and Safeway to offer its blood testing in their stores.
After closing deals with Walgreens and Safeway, Holmes arrogantly boasted at a conference in 2014: “We’ve reinvented the traditional laboratory infrastructure; (our technology) eliminates the need for people to have needles stuck in their arm.” Walgreens now acknowledges that it did not first validate Theranos’ blood-testing technology before entering into the deals.
John Carreyrou, a Wall Street Journal reporter, published a number of articles exposing the company’s deceptive practices in 2015. The blood-testing device that Theranos claimed to have invented didn’t appear to work. Instead, the company passed off blood test results conducted on regular, commercially available machines as if they came from their innovative technology.
As a result of Holmes and Balwani’s deception, they stand accused of knowingly misleading investors, doctors, and patients about Theranos’s blood-testing technology. Prosecutors refer to the Theranos case as a “massive fraud scheme,” in which Theranos brazenly lied to doctors, patients, and investors about the company’s ability to perform hundreds of tests for illnesses using just a drop of blood and a Theranos blood-testing device. Prosecutors intend to show how none of it was real.
I share this background to help differentiate Ms. Holmes conduct from parents caught up in the popular, College Admissions Scandal, also known as, Operation Varsity Blues.
Last week, a journalist suggested there were many similarities because the Elizabeth Holmes Trial and the Varsity Blues Case. I see few and address why in this video.
As a former prisoner, I believe in redemption. That redemption, however, starts with accepting responsibility–something the lion share of the parents in the College Admissions have done.
Ms. Holmes only has interest in blaming others. Redemption, earning a second chance and seeking forgiveness are as foreign to her as broccoli is to me.
Maybe I am wrong and she will be acquitted. Yet, even if she is somehow acquitted it does not change she took shortcuts and welcomed the unearned fame and unearned power. Until she accepts responsibility for her role in turning patients into victims, she will be a loathed character.