This man’s testimony could be key to putting Elizabeth Holmes away for years

Thanks to a tangle of docuseries, books, sketches, and casting rumors, it’s easy to forget the actual reason one-time magnate and Theranos CEO, Elizabeth Holmes is infamous.

This is likely less true for Dr. Kingshuk Das, who served as laboratory director of the company right before it went belly up.

Theranos rose to prominence after manufacturing a novel (and purportedly non-invasive) method of testing blood that could produce conclusive analysis from small volumes.

With just a prick of the finger, a clinician would be able to diagnose serious illnesses like heart disease and even cancer. This kind of advancement had the potential to dramatically reduce health care costs and mortality rates among underprivileged groups. 

Except internal data could not support its efficacy. Nor could Dr. Das’s own routine assessments. Investors took interest nonetheless, seeing Theranos rise to a peak valuation of $9 billion.

Two short years later, a federal grand jury would indict Holmes on nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. A trial date has reportedly been set for July 13, 2021. If Holmes is found guilty, she could face up to 20 years in prison.

Dr. Das is set to testify at her criminal trial. He was employed by Theranos between December 2015 and June 2018. In that time, he contends that the revolutionary blood-testing technology that made the corp a giant in the industry “did not perform well, and the accuracy and precision did not meet the level needed for clinical testing,”

This addition could be a death knell for Holmes’ defense considering their current angle is a turtle-necked riff on the babe in the woods routine. That Holmes had reasons to believe that the technology advertised by Theranos could in fact work with more testing. Holmes’ attornies are actively trying to block reports of her lavish spending from reaching a jury as these anecdotes, complete with private jets and a stable of assistants may staff a motive and a mindset deemed destructive to their pitch.

It should be noted that Holmes was accused of destroying test results after they had been subpoenaed earlier this year. 

These test results belonged to a database known as the Laboratory Information System (LIS), which contained three years’ worth of accuracy and failure rates.

Theranos described their proprietary blood-testing technology, as “fool-proof.”  Prosecutors have said the failure rate was so high (51.3%) the tests were “nearly completely worthless.”

“On or about August 31, 2018 — three months after a federal grand jury issued a subpoena requesting a working copy of this database – the LIS was destroyed,” prosecutors wrote in the court filing.

“The government has never been provided with the complete records contained in the LIS, nor been given the tools, which were available within the database, to search for such critical evidence as all Theranos blood tests with validation errors. The data disappeared.”

In an interview with federal agents that took place on February 1, Das said that when he alerted Theranos leaders to deficiencies he observed during the trial phase, he was met with pushback. This is in direct contrast with claims made by Holmes’ legal team.

If Dr. Das pulls off a compelling testimony and prosecutors are permitted to index the depth of wealth that Theranon’s deception afforded Holmes, her defense will more than have their work cut out for them.

“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 argue. “It instead seeks to inflame by appealing to stereotypes of class and gender.”