The legal team for Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of biotech startup, Theranos, who now faces charges for “massive fraud,” has reported asked for a trial delay after she revealed she is pregnant and expecting around the time of her July court date. This would be the fourth time Holmes criminal fraud trial has been delayed, according to a report.
Holmes, who was once worth more than $10 billion and named one of the nation’s youngest self-made female billionaires, was indicted on federal wire fraud charges in June 2018, along with her second-in-command, Chief Operating Officer Ramesh Balwani. Prosecutors alleged that Holmes and Balwani deliberately misled investors, policymakers, and the public about the accuracy of Theranos’ blood-testing technologies, CBS News reported,
If convicted, the pair could each face maximum penalties of 20 years in prison and a $2.75 million fine, plus possible restitution, the Department of Justice said. Both have pleaded not guilty, CBS reported.
On March 2, prosecutors and Holmes’s legal team made a court filing with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, requesting a six-week delay in her trial the was originally set for July 13, 2021.
“In light of Defendant’s pregnancy, the parties stipulate and agree, and respectfully request that the Court order, that the trial begins with jury selection on August 31, 2021,” read the filing, CNN reported.
Holmes was originally scheduled to go on trial on July 28, 2020, but the trial was delayed due to the pandemic. It was pushed to October and then rescheduled again for March. Bloomberg News reported that U.S. District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California had repeatedly pushed for the trial to start, hoping conditions would improve enough once more of the population is vaccinated.
In the meantime, Holmes and prosecutors have been arguing over the type of evidence jurors will get to see and hear, Bloomberg News reported.
Holmes dropped out of Stanford University at 19 to found her blood-technology start-up, Theranos, in 2003. She said she started the company based on her own fear of needles. She pitched the technology to investors, telling them that her machines were a more affordable way for the public and medical community to run dozens of blood tests that can be done with just a prick of a finger and few droplets of blood, ABC News reported.
However, in 2015, an investigation by The Wall Street Journal found that Theranos’ technology was inaccurate and that the company was using routine blood-testing equipment for the vast majority of its tests, putting patients at risk of having conditions either misdiagnosed or ignored.
This marked Theranos’ downfall. In 2018, Holmes forfeited control of Theranos and agreed to pay a $500,000 fine to settle charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission that she had committed a “massive fraud” that saw investors pour $700 million into the firm, the Associated Press reported.