Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, one of the biggest frauds in US history, is finally on trial. If she is convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $2.75 million to pay the victims.
This trial has been highly anticipated by many, and the opening arguments were made on September 8. The trial is ongoing, but today we will provide a quick summary of what happened last week, one of the most eventful ones of the trial so far.
On Tuesday, September 21, the court saw a couple of potentially damning testimonies of the trial so far. One of them was by Audra Zachman, a nurse practitioner, and her patient, Brittany Gould.
Zachman works at an OB/GYN practice in Phoenix, and according to her testimony, she requested a hormone test to track Gould’s pregnancy at the time. Zachman encouraged the patient to try Theranos because the hormone test requires multiple blood draws. Theranos’ product provided a less invasive alternative, so it was an attractive option.
Before this pregnancy, Goul had experienced three miscarriages. Theranos’ test results indicated a threat of abortion or potential loss of pregnancy. At the same time, additional test results indicated that Gould had a healthy pregnancy, and she successfully delivered a healthy baby months later.
It’s important to note that Gould is also a medical assistant, so she knows what it’s like to draw someone’s blood. She testified that the Theranos test was performed at a local Walgreens, and they simply pricked her finger. All the conflicting information was very confusing to her, and when she was shown the correct values, she decided she would never go back to Theranos.
Former US Secretary of Defense
The second potentially damning testimony in the trial came from James Mattis, former US Secretary of Defense and four-start general. His testimony illustrated how he also lost trust in Theranos over three years. He was a member of the board in the company, making him the first of Holmes’ associates to take the stand.
According to his testimony, he reached a point where he just didn’t know what to believe. There were so many fundamental issues that were just taking the board by surprise, and he couldn’t understand why that was happening.
Then, Justin Offen, a global forensic technology leader at PwC, took the stand on Wednesday, September 22, after Mattis, and he presented thousands of text messages between Holmes and the former chief operating officer of Theranos, Ramesh Balwani, who is also her ex-boyfriend.
Some of the texts shown and read in court indicated that they both were aware of the company’s issues. They were handling a lot of fires at the time, and they didn’t have anything of substance to show, even though the hype around the company was increasing more than ever.
It will be interesting to see what else comes out of the Elizabeth Holmes trial, and we will be watching closely.