Former entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes asked a California judge to toss her wire fraud convictions, according to court documents filed Friday.
Holmes — who ran the fraudulent biotechnology company Theranos — was convicted earlier this year on four counts of wire fraud. She faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine plus restitution on each count and is set to be sentenced in September.
A new court filing, however, asserts that Holmes was not convicted “beyond a reasonable doubt,” according to Bloomberg.
“Because no rational juror could have found the elements of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud beyond a reasonable doubt on this record, the Court should grant Ms. Holmes’ motion for judgment of acquittal,” Holmes’ lawyers said.
The filing also argued that a “conspiratorial agreement” between Holmes and Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani — an ex-boyfriend and former Theranos executive — to defraud investors was never proven. Balwani’s trial is set to begin on June 7.
Holmes rose to Silicon Valley stardom by deceiving investors into thinking her company’s portable blood analyzer could “conduct comprehensive blood tests” from no more than a few “finger drops of blood.” Before her would-be empire collapsed, Holmes managed to secure a $9 billion valuation for Theranos. With a $4.5 billion net worth of her own, she once topped Forbes’ list of “America’s Richest Self-Made Women.”
Holmes managed to attract several prominent political and business leaders to back her firm — including former Secretary of State George Shultz and former Defense Secretary James Mattis. Holmes also had close ties to the Clinton family and hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Holmes’ trial lasted for three months and saw over 30 witnesses testify. Her legal team has argued that “she was merely a young, naïve, ambitious founder who relied too much on others who gave her bad advice” and claimed she lacked experience, according to The New York Times. Holmes also attempted to accuse Balwani of abuse; however, the couples’ text messages seemed to depict a loving relationship.
Former Wall Street Journal investigative reporter John Carreyrou brought many of Theranos’ fraudulent practices to light with a series of articles that began in 2015. Carreyrou wrote in his 2018 book “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” that Holmes was eventually unable to continue channeling Silicon Valley’s “fake-it-until-you-make-it” culture.
“A sociopath is often described as someone with little or no conscience,” Carreyrou said in his epilogue. “I’ll leave it to the psychologists to decide whether Holmes fits the clinical profile, but there’s no question that her moral compass is badly askew.”
“I’m fairly certain she didn’t initially set out to defraud investors and put patients in harm’s way when she dropped out of Stanford,” he continued. “But in her all-consuming quest to be the second coming of Steve Jobs amid the gold rush of the ‘unicorn’ boom, there came a point when she stopped listening to sound advice and began to cut corners. Her ambition was voracious and it brooked no interference. If there was collateral damage on her way to riches and fame, so be it.”