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Theranos founder and infamous grifter Elizabeth Holmes is preparing for her criminal trial, set to begin in August, as new details regarding what prosecutors can and cannot bring up in court emerge. Holmes previously requested that the prosecution be prohibited from bringing up her “lavish spending,” reports Business Insider, saying it was irrelevant to the case, citing the “prejudicial danger” of misleading the jury, according to a court ruling filed on May 22. And while certain aspects of Holmes’ petition were upheld, the prosecution has been granted permission to “bring up evidence that shows Holmes wished to become wealthy” as a result of Theranos.
For the unaware, Holmes first gained notoriety in 2015, when Forbes named the then-31 year-old the youngest and wealthiest self-made woman billionaire in the U.S. The title came after the $9 billion valuation of her company, Theranos — a now defunct blood-testing company that Holmes claimed would revolutionize the medical and pharmaceutical industry. Instead of relying on invasive blood tests that required vials of blood, Holmes and the leadership behind Theranos claimed to have developed technology that would only require a single finger prick and a simple machine that could run numerous blood tests almost instantaneously, rather than requiring patients to give multiple vials of blood for routine tests. The problem, of course, is that the technology did not exist.
After further inquiry into the inner workings of the company, The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged Holmes with deceiving investors. In 2018, Holmes paid a $500,000 fine, returned 18.9 million shares to the company, and was banned from serving as a chief officer or director of a company for 10 years. In June of the same year, Holmes was indicted on nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Now, the jury will hear how Holmes personally benefited from the wealth she amassed by defrauding investors, the U.S. government, and patients. Prosecutors have detailed Holmes’ luxurious stays at hotels, her reliance on multiple assistants, and trips on private jets. She is also said to have hired assistants to purchase her clothes, jewelry, groceries, and decorate her house. Her relationship with multiple celebrities will also reportedly be included, showing what Fortune reports as “evidence that she had a financial incentive to commit fraud.”
“Each time Holmes made an extravagant purchase, it is reasonable to infer that she knew her fraudulent activity allowed her to pay for those items,” U.S. District Judge Edward Davila wrote in his ruling. “This includes salary, travel, celebrity, and other perks and benefits commensurate with the positions.”
There are some caveats, however: Prosecutors cannot describe the details of certain purchases Holmes made, including the brands of clothing, types of hotels, or other personal items, as the judge said the information “risks biasing jurors,” according to Business Insider. Davila went on to rule that avoiding the details would eliminate improper “appeals to class prejudice.”
The moral of the story, of course, is that while it may pay to be a grifter, the payout certainly doesn’t last very long.
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