The jury finds Therano’s founder Elizabeth Holmes guilty of fraud

An American jury on Monday found Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes guilty of conspiring to trick investors into starting blood tests, and convicted her on four of 11 counts.

Holmes was convicted of defrauding three other investors and conspiring to do so.

She was acquitted on three counts of fraud by patients who paid for tests from Theranos, and a related charge of conspiracy.

The jury could not make a decision on three points related to individual investors.

Holmes, wearing a gray suit jacket, seemed ready after the verdict was read. A date for the verdict was not set immediately.

She risks up to 80 years in prison when she is sentenced by the American district judge Edward Davila, but would probably receive a much lower sentence.

Prosecutors said Holmes, 37, deceived private investors between 2010 and 2015 by convincing them that Therano’s small machines could run a series of tests with a few drops of blood from a fingertip.

Holmes was also accused of misleading patients about the accuracy of the tests.

Holmes became famous in Silicon Valley after founding Theranos in 2003.

Wealthy private investors including media mogul Rupert Murdoch invested millions in the company after meeting the founder, who was known for his Steve Jobs-like black turtleneck.

The case has highlighted Therano’s failed attempt to revolutionize laboratory tests. The company secretly relied on conventional machines manufactured by Siemens to run patient tests, prosecutors said.

Theranos collapsed after the Wall Street Journal published a series of articles suggesting that its devices were faulty and faulty. Holmes was indicted in 2018 along with Therano’s former chief operating officer Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani.

She had pleaded not guilty to nine counts of fraud and two counts of conspiracy. Balwani has also pleaded not guilty and will be brought to justice at a later date.

During the trial in San Jose, California, which began in September, jurors heard testimonies from former Theranos employees who said they were leaving the company after seeing problems with its technology.

Investors testified that Holmes made misleading claims about Theranos, such as that its machines were used in the field by the US military. And previous patients told jurors they would not have used Therano’s tests if they had known the tests were incorrect.

Prosecutors said that if Holmes had been truthful to investors and patients, the venture would never have attracted critical funding and revenue.

“She chose fraud over business failure. She chose to be dishonest,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Schenk at the beginning of the closing argument. “That choice was not only emotional, it was criminal.”

Holmes testified in her own defense at the trial, saying she never meant to deceive anyone and that Therano’s lab managers were responsible for the test quality. In closing argument, defense attorney Kevin Downey said the evidence did not show Holmes was motivated by a cash crisis on Theranos, but rather believed she was “building a technology that would change the world.”

“You know that at the first sign of trouble, the villains take out,” but Holmes stopped, Downey said. “She went down with that ship when it went down.”

(REUTERS)

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