back to article Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes's arguments for new trial deemed spurious – just like her tech

Elizabeth Holmes, founder of debunked blood-testing startup Theranos, will be sentenced next week after a federal judge denied her request for a new trial. In January 2022, Holmes, 38, was convicted on charges of wire fraud and defrauding investors. Her lawyers, however, argued she deserved a fresh trial when key witness Adam …

  1. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

    Imagine if she cashed a dud cheque

    She would already be in the slammer. But different rules apply when you are wealthy.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Imagine if she cashed a dud cheque

      Wealthy? Does that mean she gets to keep the proceeds of her fraud? That'll be handy when she gets out...

      1. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: Imagine if she cashed a dud cheque

        A lot of the proceeds will be sat in the Caymans or in Switzerland.

        1. SundogUK Silver badge

          Re: Imagine if she cashed a dud cheque

          I think most of her 'wealth' was in Theranos shares, so not worth a bean any more.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Imagine if she cashed a dud cheque

        What planet do you live on? She married William "Billy" Evans, who is rich the old fashion way, he inherited his money. They live in a $135M property in Woodside, which is part of Silicon Valley near Stanford University.

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Imagine if she cashed a dud cheque

        Wealthy? Does that mean she gets to keep the proceeds of her fraud?

        From the point of view of a legal team on contingency, she's wealthy until she runs out of appeals. Which is what's just happened, it appears.

        Honestly I don't have a problem with that, either. She's entitled to a defense. I'm not questioning the verdict, and I suspect if I'd been on the jury I would have voted to convict as well.

        But I also agree that we need better funding for public defense, to reduce inequity in the system. And we need to cut down on prosecutorial abuse of the plea-bargain system, and on the "chickenshit prosecutor" phenomenon that discourages prosecution of wealthy and powerful offenders.

  2. aerogems Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Good

    Not only was the prosecution's case strong enough that no one witness would sink it, the woman went and got herself pregnant in a pretty shameless and obvious attempt to keep her out of prison as much as possible.

    And even if we believe her story that she was in an abusive relationship, in the US that is not an excuse for the massive fraud she was part of. Not to mention how people's health was put in jeopardy because of that fraud. I don't care about the investors who claim they were defrauded... you pays your money and you takes your chances when you choose to invest in a company. The doctors and their patients who were defrauded are the people I care about. So she can go directly to jail. Do not pass go, do not collect any reduced sentences for being pregnant.

    1. hmas

      Re: Good

      I'd second this. There were enough dissenting/sceptical voices that if an investor listened hard enough they'd have known it was too good to be true. It was the medical equivalent of the mechanical turk.

    2. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker
      Childcatcher

      Re: Good

      That's gonna' be one messed-up kid: Mom a convicted fraudster, conceived as a ploy... Way to give the next generation another dose of depression/anxiety in advance!

      Icon: I'm not joking, though. If you can't raise them decently, don't have kids! ===>

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    She better be careful

    Prison is just full of cheats, liars, crooks and the like.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Seems like she'll be right at home - except no longer on the top rung of the ladder.

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: She better be careful

      The trial originally shows a little evidence that suggested that she had made a scientific assumption, based on what she was seeing, that had problems that she did not completely understand looking at the science results that she was working with.

      But the people running her company were busy setting things up to convince the corporate environment that they could make a hell of a lot of money from her ideas, but there was nothing done to show that the whole thing was working. When the issues became transparent she was prosecuted (essentially for incomplete science errors) but the money grippers running Theranos were all seen as innocent and are very happy now because they have got away with it.

      Scientific errors are errors, not crimes - so we're busy punishing her for errors and letting the management get away with their actions.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: She better be careful

        The was in charge and it appeared she was the one calling for the smoke and mirrors. I know Silly-con valley is mostly fake it until you make it but usually your initial concept sorta works.

        1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: She better be careful

          She was a student in college when she thought she had a potential solution to a reported problem, certainly she was wrong but the people managing her were dumber, initially thinking she was right and then running into the "let's make money" world, not the medical safety world.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: She better be careful

            You won't get any arguments from me about the people who gave her money being dumb; there's a reason she got no investors who knew anything about the industry. The rest of your claims, however, are complete rubbish.

            She was a student when she recognized the existence of a problem. She didn't have any knowledge of how to accomplish what she wanted. It's like me saying "I've discovered that it takes a while to fly on planes and faster ones are really expensive. I know, let's build a cheap faster plane". That's all well and good, but I don't know how to build a cheap faster plane and she didn't know how to build a blood testing machine that worked on smaller samples. After trying to build one and recognizing that she didn't have a clue what she was doing, she started lying about it and submitting fraudulent documents to investors to steal their money, knowing the goal was not being achieved. Until that started, she was just stupid, not a criminal, but it only took a few months to make the switch.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: She better be careful

        First of all, she knew the company's products didn't work. She knew she was conning investors and potential business partners like Walgreens. She's been found guilty of that.

        Next, she was the management. She was the CEO. You seem to be suggesting she made minor scientific errors and was deceived by her employees. That's utter nonsense. As her criminal conviction proves.

        IIRC one of her defences was she was a naive young woman who got lead astray and didn't know what the company she ran was doing. The jury saw that for the pathetic bullshit it was. It's no different from the "bad boy did it and ran away" excuse we'd try as toddlers. It didn't work then and it doesn't work now.

        Frankly, Holmes and Badwani (sp?) are lucky not to be facing manslaughter charges. People have probably died because of the faked blood test results from those dodgy devices that didn't do what Theranos claimed. Others will have faced life-changing medical conditions that would have been successfully treated or at least alleviated if Theranos's products worked.

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: She better be careful

          "That's utter nonsense."

          It's not just nonsense, it's the line of nonsense that neo-Nazis are pushing. She was supposedly diddled out of her business by the Indian and a Jew or two. It's some truly rancid shite.

      3. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: She better be careful

        She wasn't convicted for a scientific error.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jailbirthing

    A woman who said she was left to give birth to her baby alone on the dirty, concrete floor of her jail cell in Maryland filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday alleging that jail nurses ignored her screams and pleas for help for six hours ... Valentine claims she punched the walls of her solitary confinement cell, which did not have blankets or sheets, during her most painful contractions and removed what she believed was her baby’s amniotic sac and slid it under her cell door to prove she was about to have a baby ... Because of the unsanitary conditions in the cell, the baby developed a type of staph bacteria infection that is resistant to many antibiotics, the lawsuit said ... The lawsuit is similar to one filed in 2019 by a woman who gave birth alone in Denver’s jail the year before, claiming that nurses and deputies ignored her pleas for help for five hours.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Jailbirthing

      I'm not sure what your point is, but I hope that this both stops in those facilities that weren't meeting these basic standards and that the facility she goes to already meets those standards. It doesn't change the fact that she deserves to go to jail.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Jailbirthing

        Still, not a bad looker, eh?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Jailbirthing

        The point is that won't happen to EH.

        In the cases of the two facilities that were sued (a year apart) they will probably really call an ambulance for a woman in labor, from now on. Whether that will carry over to other jails/prisons elsewhere - probably not.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Jailbirthing

          She will be in a nice Californian white collar prison.

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Jailbirthing

      USA is a third world country, in many ways. Soon not even a democracy.

      UK is right behind USA.

      1. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: Jailbirthing

        UK is already not a democracy.

        1. Roj Blake Silver badge

          Re: Jailbirthing

          By which I mean:

          A hereditary head of state

          An upper house that includes the 7th Earl of Minto, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and a bunch of bishops

          A lower house that is not proportionally elected and which allows the selection of a new head of government without consulting the electorate

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Jailbirthing

            Roj Blake,

            A hereditary head of state

            A quick Google tells me that 43 countries have monarchies. Many of them democracies, and some with proportionally elected parliaments (seeing as that's important to you). In Europe alone there's the UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein as well as the smaller stranger ones like Andorra (with two rulers one of them the President of France). And then of course Commonwealth countries that haven't bothered to get their own President / King.

            Elected presidents are also not that common. Many are chose by countries' Parliaments, rather than by public election. At least if they're serving as ceremonial (and powerless) heads of state - in the same way that constitutional monarchs now serve for most European democracies. Including the UK.

            An upper house that includes the 7th Earl of Minto, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and a bunch of bishops

            Loads of countries appoint their upper houses. Or large parts of them. The only elected members of the house of Lords are in fact the heriditary peers. As 90-odd of them are elected by the rest of the chamber. This is because many of them were doing a good job when Labour wanted to reform the Lords - so some were kept as a compromise. Rather fittingly odd, given the way our constitution has evolved over the centuries.

            A lower house that is not proportionally elected and which allows the selection of a new head of government without consulting the electorate

            This though shows your utter ignorance of how democracies vote.

            Israel is the only country I can think of where the Prime Minister was directly elected by the voters. Separate to the votes for MPs. And that was only a brief experiment in the 90s, that was supposed to give more stable governments - but didn't. So they got rid of it.

            Most countries that have proportional parliaments don't have two party systems. This means that not only do electorates get no say in who their Prime Minister is going to be - they don't even necessarily know who it's going to be after the election. Because a coalition will have to be formed and there may be several large leading parties who theoretically could lead it. So the PM will be decided by the coalition negotiations after the election with zero input from the public. And also no way for the public to get rid of a Prime Minister they don't like - seeing as a party could lose loads of seats in a subsequent election but might still stay on with the same coalition partners after the election and keep the same PM. Equally a coalition can break down and a different one be formed, without having a new election.

            Presidential systems may also have proportionally elected parliaments. But in a presidential system the President needn't necessarily have a parliamentary majority at all.

            There is no such thing as a perfect democracy. All systems are imperfect and have their problems. Counties with constant coalition governments may have less change in policy but that could just be because the country gets run according to the establishment groupthink that a majority of parties might subscribe to. See German Russia and energy policy for the last 50 years, as an example of how that can go rather badly wrong.

            But proportional systems do give louder voices to smaller groups of the population, who find it easier to get national representation. This again can be both a good and a bad thing. In Israel if often gives disproportionate power to the most intransigent "settler" parties - who've often ended up as the swing-voters in coalition forming. But in most countries makes for a more pluralist political culture.

            However the downside of small parties being needed to form coalitions is the big negative advantage of a constituency voting system. You can kick the bastards out! If enough of the population decide to gang up on one party, they can outvote that party's core support and get loads of their MPs kicked out in all but the safest seats.

            To take a German example again, say you hated the FDP. They've always been a minor party, never usually getting more than 10% of the vote and often hovering around the 7% mark. And yet they were in government from 1949-1957 then from 1963-66 then from 69-98. So in the 51 years of post-war governments they were only out of power 9 of them. They've governed with both the CDU and the SPD - so in the late 20th Century it didn't matter who you voted for - you got the FDP. This isn't a major disaster, it's just a flaw of systems that encourage coalitions.

            So be in favour of the system you believe in. Argue for it. But understand it. And don't claim that the system you don't like isn't democratic and then cite reasons for that which also apply to the systems you favour.

      2. SundogUK Silver badge

        Re: Jailbirthing

        The US has never been a democracy. It is, and has always been, a constitutional republic.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Jailbirthing

          Now it is pretty much under authoritarian single party control.

          Isn't Maryland pro-choice? They could spin this has that special 'healthcare'.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Jailbirthing

          "The US has never been a democracy. It is, and has always been, a constitutional republic."

          Considering that, so far, 124 people have been elected to power that have publicly stated that Donald Trump "really won" the 2020 Presidential election, it may not even be that for much longer.

    3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Jailbirthing

      Indeed. I hope the judge can find a way to take into account the best interests of a wholly innocent third party (the baby). Prison is no place for babies or (by extension) pregnant women/new mothers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Jailbirthing

        By removing the baby from a convicted criminal and placing it in the care of the state

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Jailbirthing

          Because the state has such a good track record on taking care of children?

          1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            There's another choice ?

            It's a baby. There's every chance that it can get adopted.

            People like babies when they want to adopt a child.

            Adopting a teenager is just asking for trouble.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Jailbirthing

          or it's multimillionare father?

      2. Dave@Home

        Re: Jailbirthing

        I believe that is what happens when you face the consequences of your own actions

      3. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Jailbirthing

        They're not likely to leave the baby in there after it's born, you know. As for the mother, it is a place for them if they're convicted criminals, and she is. Pregnancy isn't an escape mechanism. If the prisons don't have the ability to look after someone with those medical needs, then they're either not intended to and she'd be sent to one that has the required facilities, or the prison isn't fit for purpose, but in both cases, that's a possible problem with a particular prison, not a reason she should be exempt from anything.

  5. Peter Galbavy

    Is her argument, basically, "But I'm so pretty!" - dressed in legalese, of course.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      "pretty vacant?"

  6. First Light Silver badge

    Baby baby

    She must have thought having a baby would get her acquitted or get her sentence reduced. Yes I'm that cynical.

    What she has done is ensure her kid will be motherless for several years.

    Of course in addition to everything else she has done. Massively selfish.

    1. Joe Drunk

      Re: Baby baby

      If her husband/father of the child is wealthy then a nanny will raise it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Downvotes illustrate ...

    This is normal, El Reg is normally very accurate about events, the down-votes all suggest that most of my snivelling miserable friends are only reading today's explanations, but never watched what was happening originally when this was being sold as a "great solution" and everyone thought it was a great improvement back in the old days.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Downvotes illustrate ...

      "Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves." - Brendan Behan

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