Elizabeth Holmes returns to court to avoid prison

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Disgraced Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes made her last court appearance Friday before beginning an 11-year prison sentence unless a judge grants her request to remain free while her attorneys file an appeal. her belief for organizing blood test fraud.

The 90-minute hearing came four months after Holmes’ last court appearance. That was when U.S. District Judge Edward Davila sentenced her for defrauding investors in Theranos, the startup she founded 20 years ago and rose to fleeting fame and fortune on promises of revolutionary blood-testing technology.

Before the hearing began, a man in the courtroom in San Jose, California, tried to approach the table where Holmes was sitting, holding a document in his hands. He was quickly intercepted by security officers and forcibly taken out. Holmes did not seem embarrassed by the failure.

The hearing ended without a determination as to whether Holmes, 39, will be able to stay out of jail while her appeal unfolds or if she must surrender to authorities on April 27 as scheduled. Davila said he hopes to issue his ruling in early April.

Earlier this month, the judge rejected such an application to escape the prison set up by Holmes’ former lover and convicted accomplice of Theranos, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who faces almost 13 years of imprisonment after a jury found him guilty 12 counts of fraud and conspiracy. Balwani, 57, was scheduled to appear at a federal prison in Southern California on Thursday, but his attorney used a legal maneuver at the last minute to buy more time.

Holmes arrived at the hearing on St. Patrick’s Day in a black jacket and blue skirt. She recently gave birth to a second child according to court documents, which did not provide a gender or date of birth.

One of her lawyers, Amy Sahario, argued that Holmes should be freed because of various misstatements and failure to present evidence during her four-month trial, making it possible that an appeals court would overturn her conviction on four counts of fraud and conspiracy. .

“We believe the record is riddled with problems,” Saharia said. She specifically cited Davila’s refusal to allow jurors to read the sworn testimony Balwani gave during the SEC’s investigation into the Theranos collapse, which Holmes’ defense team said would have helped exonerate her.

Federal prosecutor Kelly Volkar argued that there was “no likelihood of overturning” Holmes’ conviction and said the court had documented seven different categories of fraud in which she engaged while running Theranos. Much of the hoax centered on a device called the “Edison,” which Holmes boasted could detect hundreds of diseases and other health problems with just a few drops of blood taken from a finger prick.

But Edison produced such unreliable results that Theranos began relying on third-party testing equipment already in widespread use on the market — a switch that Holmes hid to keep the company afloat.

“It shocked investors,” recalled Volkar Dávila.

The two opposing sides also argued over how much compensation Holmes should pay defrauded investors whose trust briefly boosted her fortune to $4.5 billion, based on Theranos’ peak value before its collapse.

Federal prosecutor Robert Leach argued that her conspiracy conviction warranted almost $900 million in restitution to Theranos investors who had been lied to by her. “To apply common sense, these investors lost the money they invested,” Leach said.

But Holmes’ lawyer, Patrick Looby, countered that prosecutors were way off base in seeking an “all or nothing” amount. He noted that the jury in her trial failed to reach a verdict on three counts of defrauding investors, prompting prosecutors to dismiss the charges. Luby argued that Holmes’ restitution penalty should be limited to a handful of investors who testified during her trial.

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