Disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes' trial could be delayed by pregnancy

Holmes is on trial for allegedly defrauding investors, doctors and patients while at the helm of blood-testing startup

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The alleged Theranos fraudster Elizabeth Holmes is pregnant, according to a new court filing, potentially delaying her trial by several weeks.

Holmes is being charged with fraud for her role at the helm of Theranos, a blood-testing startup that was a rising star in Silicon Valley before it emerged it had misrepresented the effectiveness of its technology.

Lawyers for Holmes asked the judge on 2 March to delay the start of jury selection to 31 August, after her due date.

“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,” said the filing.

Holmes, who famously dropped out of Stanford at 19, founded Theranos in 2003 with the goal of revolutionizing blood testing. She quickly became a star in the startup space that is largely dominated by men.

The company’s rise and fall became a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of the Silicon Valley hype machine: it received glowing media coverage and raised more than $700m from investors on claims it had invented a machine that could conduct hundreds of laboratory tests from a single finger-prick of blood. The tests were rolled out in Walgreens stores and Theranos reached a $9bn valuation before it became clear that many of the claims about the company’s supposedly revolutionary blood test were bogus.

Holmes and the former Theranos president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani have pleaded not guilty to charges they defrauded investors, doctors and patients. Theranos’ tests for calcium, potassium, HIV and diabetes, for example, misrepresented their efficacy.

“Based on these representations, many hundreds of patients paid or caused their medical insurance companies to pay Theranos for blood tests and test results, sometimes following referrals from their defrauded doctors,” the initial indictment stated.

Holmes was indicted in 2018 and her federal trial in San Jose, California, was originally scheduled for 28 July 2020 but was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Balwani’s case is being handled separately and his trial is scheduled to begin 18 January.

The Silicon Valley saga has inspired a bestselling book, a popular podcast, several documentaries and a feature film.


Kari Paul and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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