26.01.2022

Theranos found Elizabeth Holmes is pregnant, possibly delaying her fraud trial

The fraud trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes may be delayed again because she is pregnant, her lawyers say.

Ms Holmes is accused of defrauding investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars with a bogus blood-testing technology. Her trial was set to begin on 13 July, but because she is expecting to give birth that month, both her defence attorneys and prosecutors have asked that it be pushed back.

“The parties have met and conferred, and both parties agree that, in light of this development, it is not feasible to begin the trial on July 13, 2021, as currently scheduled,” lawyers from both sides wrote in a filing to the judge.

The lawyers requested that jury selection begin on August 31 instead.

The trial has already faced several delays. It was originally supposed to begin last summer, but was pushed back repeatedly because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Holmes and her business partner, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, have been charged with nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Mr Balwani’s trial is scheduled for January 2022.

The pair’s company, Theranos, had promised to deliver revolutionary technology that could test for cancer, diabetes, and other conditions with just a few drops of blood. Investors rushed to the company, which was valued at $9 billion at its peak.

But prosecutors say Ms Holmes and Mr Balwani knew all along that the technology was badly flawed, with a less than 50 per cent accuracy rate, and destroyed data that proved it wasn’t working. Since the accusations went public, the company has dissolved.

Both Ms Holmes and Mr Balwani have pleaded not guilty.

Lawyers for Ms Holmes have signalled that they may use a mental health defence at the trial. In September, they told Judge Edward Davila that they planned to introduce evidence from a psychologist “relating to a mental disease or defect or any other mental condition of the defendant bearing on the issue of guilt.”

Judge Davila then ordered that Ms Holmes be examined by government psychology experts.

Ms Holmes, 37, is married to Billy Evans, the 29-year-old heir to the Evans Hotel Group. They married in 2019.

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