Lawyers and prosecutors in the federal criminal case against disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes have agreed on a September 2020 start date for a trial expected to take three months, according to a new court filing.
Holmes is charged with felony conspiracy and fraud for allegedly misleading patients, doctors and investors about her now-defunct Silicon Valley blood-testing startup. She and former company president Sunny Balwani were indicted by a grand jury in June. They are charged with 11 criminal counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
On Friday, federal prosecutors and lawyers for Holmes and Balwani filed a joint memo in San Jose U.S. District Court, saying the prosecution did not oppose the proposal by lawyers for Holmes and Balwani to start the trial in September 2020, “or as soon thereafter as would be convenient for the court.” Prosecutors had preferred a start date in the first half of 2020, but the defense maintained that more time was needed to prepare, according to the memo.
The case’s complexity, along with the volume of information the three sides in the case must produce, argue in favor of the trial date in late 2020, according to the memo, spotted by NBC News. The parties in the case are asking the judge to reserve three months for the trial, the memo said.
Federal prosecutors allege Holmes and Balwani claimed their purportedly revolutionary “miniLab” system could use a few drops of blood from a finger-prick to quickly conduct a full range of tests, when in fact it had accuracy and reliability problems, performed limited tests, and was slower than some competing devices. Theranos’ machines had been available for patient use at Walgreens stores in Palo Alto and Arizona.
Holmes — who dropped out of Stanford University at 19 to found Theranos — and Balwani face maximum penalties of 20 years in prison and a $2.75 million fine, plus possible restitution, the Department of Justice has said.
Last year, Holmes was hit with a $500,000 fine by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which alleged she had committed a “massive fraud” that saw investors pour $700 million into the firm. Before its troubles began, the company was at one point valued at $9 billion and in 2015, Holmes topped Forbes’ list of America’s richest self-made women with a net worth of $4.5 billion. A year later, Forbes cut her estimated net worth to zero.
A judge must still set the date for the trial to start. The parties in the case are scheduled to hold a date-setting conference June 28.