Late Saturday U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila ruled that jurors in Elizabeth Holmes’ trial could hear limited evidence of her extravagant lifestyle when she was the Chief Executive Officer of Theranos. This ruling was made as part of a 100-page response to motions in the upcoming criminal trial of Holmes. However, Holmes got a few concessions as references to her extravagance outside her position of CEO of the startup were not included in the hearing.
The ruling is partly in her favor as prosecutors cannot furnish details of Holmes’ specific purchases and personal items which were allegedly many as she sent Theranos-paid assistants to go on extravagant shopping sprees to purchase luxury goods. She lived in a costly rental home. She traveled by private jet and stayed in luxury hotels.
Holmes had argued in court with prosecutors over the relevance of her wealth, lifestyle and perks she had obtained as a result of her position to the jurors who were a part of her trial. The ruling is a result of that battle.
However, a motion by the prosecutors to allow business-related text messages between Holmes and Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, was denied by the judge. The texts indicate that the two executives knew that the blood testing company was in trouble, in 2014, much before it collapsed.
An alleged text, sent in November 2014 by Balwani to Holmes called one Theranos lab as “a f*cling disaster zone” and the text also said that he would work on “fixing this.”
She faces a trial in August this year. The trial kept getting postponed from October 2020 due to the coronavirus as well as for personal reasons as she will be giving birth in July.
Theranos was a blood testing startup with labs for testing samples, at low cost. At the height of its growth, it was given a value of $9 billion. It had partnered with Walgreens. Holmes was felicitated as the world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire. The Wall Street Journal investigated the company in 2018. It exposed the failings and shortcomings in the blood-testing technology, which it was reportedly developing. This led to the collapse of the company.
Both Elizabeth Holmes and Ramesh Balwani have pled not guilty to nine counts of criminal wire fraud charges. These charges have been filed by the prosecution who say that the executives defrauded investors, doctors, and patients.
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