Judges will hear Elizabeth Holmes' appeal of fraud conviction while she is in prison in Texas

SAN FRANCISCO– A panel of federal judges spent two hours Tuesday grappling with a series of legal issues that emerged in an effort to overturn a fraud conviction that sent Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes to prison after a meteoric rise to stardom Silicon Valley.

The hearing in the Court of Appeals, Greed and Hubris in San Francisco took place almost two and a half years later a jury convicted Holmes for orchestrating a blood test scam there was a parable about that greed and hubris in Silicon Valley. Holmes' deception tool was Theranos, a Palo Alto, California, startup that she founded shortly after dropping out of Stanford University in 2003 with her sights set on revolutionizing healthcare.

Holmes, who did not attend the hearing, is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence in a prison in Bryan, Texas.

But Holmes' parents and her partner – the father of her two young children – Billy Evans sat in the front row of the courtroom listening intently to the oral arguments. All three federal prosecutors who presented the Justice Department's case during the original four-month trial were in the audience in the courtroom, including two attorneys – Jeffrey Schenk and John Bostic – who have since gone on to work for private law firms .

Three appeals court judges — Jacqueline Nguyen, Ryan Nelson and Mary Schroeder — gave little guidance on whether they leaned toward upholding or overturning Holmes' conviction. However, they frequently made it clear that it would take compelling evidence to overturn the jury's verdict.

Nelson seemed the most torn of the three judges and showed some sympathy when Holmes' attorney Amy Saharia said the outcome of her trial deserved scrutiny because the jury also acquitted her on four other charges of fraud and conspiracy and was incapable of to come to a judgement. three other counts.

Before the hearing adjourned, Nguyen said a ruling would be made “in due course,” without giving a specific timetable. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year for appellate courts to rule on appeals involving criminal convictions.

Holmes will remain in prison, with a currently scheduled release date of August 2032 – earlier than her full sentence due to her good behavior to date.

A decade ago, Theranos had become so popular in the healthcare industry that several prominent people, including then-Vice President Joe Biden, called it an example of American ingenuity. Holmes had become a media sensation with a fortune worth $4.5 billion.

The excitement stemmed from Holmes' claim that Theranos-designed devices could scan a few drops of human blood for hundreds of potential diseases. But the devices produced unreliable results that both Holmes and her former business partner and lover at the time, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, tried to conceal.

Once the technology's glaring flaws were exposed, Theranos collapsed in a scandal that led to criminal charges against both Holmes and Balwani. Prosecutors hoped to break a “fake it till you make it” mentality adopted by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs hoping to get rich with products that still contained bugs.

In addition to hearing from Holmes' attorneys Tuesday, the panel of appellate judges also heard arguments from another flank of attorneys representing Balwani, who is seeking to overturn the 13-year prison sentence he received. his conviction from July 2022 for fraud and conspiracy in a separate trial.

Balwani, 58, claims federal prosecutors distorted the evidence to favor the jury against him while weaving a different narrative than the one they presented during Holmes' trial, which concluded shortly before it began in March 2022. Unlike Holmes, Balwani was convicted of all twelve trials. felony counts of fraud and conspiracy he faces, a factor that contributed to his longer prison sentence. He is currently scheduled to be released from a federal prison in Southern California in November 2033.

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