Elizabeth Holmes, deposed CEO of medical startup Theranos, has been convicted of fraud over her claims of revolutionary medical testing systems.
Theranos, which Holmes founded when she was 19, claimed to be able to run tests for hundreds of diseases and health issues with just a drop of blood soaked into a piece of paper. Prick your finger with a provided lancet like those in diabetic testing, let a drop of blood soak into the testing strip, and mail it back, and you would, allegedly, learn all kinds of things about your health.
But the technology never worked. Theranos’ blood-testing technology was inconsistent and often produced misleading results, which meant patients had to go get the regular blood draws they’d hoped to avoid. If sending in your sample did produce a useful result, it was usually because Theranos had tested the sample using conventional machines instead of their own techniques. And they made claims about testing for things that simply cannot be tested for from a blood smear. Many blood tests require blood to be kept refrigerated from collection to testing, or to be separated in a centrifuge.
Holmes’s trial was three months long, involving 32 witnesses and mounds of legal, financial, and medical evidence. The jury found her guilty of two counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud, both in relation to the $4.5 billion she took from investors. However, they acquitted her of four other counts of fraud and conspiracy, these in connection to Theranos’ “patients.” Further, they deadlocked on three remaining charges, which will likely be dismissed by a federal judge next week.
Elizabeth Holmes hasn’t been sentenced yet, but her four guilty verdicts carry a maximum of twenty years each. The judge in her case will hold sentencing until after the trial against Sunny Balwani, Holmes’ business partner and ex-lover.
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