If prosecutors can prove that a significant portion of the wealth her company acquired—by distributing blood tests with falsified results—contributed to a life of opulence for Holmes, a jury might be that much more incentivized to convict the ousted magnate.
This framing not only presents a motive for the defendant, but it also establishes her as the kind of shrill tycoon that privileges profits over fiduciary responsibilities.
There’s a lot of material waiting to sharpen this particular angle. Just last month, Holmes was accused of destroying evidence that contained three years worth of Theranos’ accuracy and failure rates not long after it had been subpoenaed.
The defense will have to tackle this allegation head on. Holmes’ lavish lifestyle however, may yet be kept from reaching the jury selected to review her case.
“The amount of money Ms. Holmes earned in her position at Theranos, how she chose to spend that money, and the identities of people with whom she associated simply have no relevance to Ms. Holmes’ guilt or innocence,” Holmes’ attorneys wrote.
“Many CEOs live in luxurious housing, buy expensive vehicle and clothing, travel luxuriously, and associate with famous people – as the government claims Ms. Holmes did. The jury should not be subjected to arguments regarding Ms. Holmes’ alleged purchase of luxury travel, ‘fine wine,’ or ‘food delivery to her home.”
In addition to citing Holmes’ spending’s irrelevance, her legal team has expressed concerns that details regarding her lifestyle might invoke class prejudice and sexism. Moreover, they contend that luxury spending is an inconsistent motive considering Holmes was often ribbed for frequently wearing her trademark turtleneck getup.
“The government ignores that Ms. Holmes was criticized for wearing the same outfit every day,” her attorneys added.
In newly released filings, prosecutors claim that Holmes routinely enjoyed shopping sprees, owned a private jet, and a stable of errand runners. All of these expenses are alleged to have been paid with the profits made from Theranos’ brief but highly publicized run. The very run that saw the company become valued at $9 billion and Holmes top Forbes’s list of the youngest self-made female billionaires in the US.
This could suggest that when confronted with the prospect of violating ethics protocols, Holmes was motivated by her exorbitant wealth and newfound fame to keep lying to potential investors.
“Evidence regarding the purchase of expensive clothing, makeup and self-care products, and other goods (again, none of which are alleged to be beyond her means), which the government intends to introduce through otherwise irrelevant emails by Ms. Holmes’ personal assistants, does not establish a motive to commit fraud,” Holmes’ attorneys concluded. “It instead seeks to inflame by appealing to stereotypes of class and gender.”
Holmes and former Theranos president, Ramesh Balwani could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the fraud charges they are currently facing.
“Elizabeth Holmes and Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani are charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud. According to the indictment, the charges stem from allegations that Holmes and Balwani engaged in a multi-million-dollar scheme to defraud investors, and a separate scheme to defraud doctors and patients,” the United States Department of Justice reports.
“Both schemes involved efforts to promote Theranos, a company founded by Holmes and based in Palo Alto, California. Theranos was a private health care and life sciences company with the stated mission to revolutionize medical laboratory testing through allegedly innovative methods for drawing blood, testing blood, and interpreting the resulting patient data.”