Counts Dropped, Sentencing Delayed, Out Free: White Privilege At Work For Elizabeth Holmes?

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The downfall of fraudulent blood testing firm Theranos and its founder Elizabeth Holmes captivated lots of people. Even when Holmes was hailed because the world’s youngest feminine self-made billionaire, for anybody who knew a bit about biotech, it appeared arduous to consider that somebody who dropped out of faculty throughout her sophomore 12 months could possibly be technically adept sufficient to revolutionize the blood testing trade.

That’s why Holmes particularly focused influential however biomedically ignorant folks to develop into her traders and board members. They couldn’t see her fraud for what it was. She would possibly nonetheless be getting away with it at present if not for the intrepid reporting of John Carreyrou, who introduced the entire thing to mild. In case you haven’t but learn Carreyrou’s e book Unhealthy Blood: Secrets and techniques and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, I’d suggest it. The textual content is filled with shocking and entertaining particulars that even the most important information junkies received’t have gotten from the Holmes trial protection.

I hope I’m not revealing any spoilers right here by disclosing that following a months-long trial, Elizabeth Holmes was convicted on 4 felony costs for defrauding traders — three counts of wire fraud, and one rely of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Every rely carries a most sentence of 20 years, and theoretically the sentences may run consecutively for a complete of as much as 80 years (though it’s more likely that the choose will permit the sentences to run concurrently). If I have been a betting man, I might wager that Holmes received’t face anyplace near even one full 20-year jail time period although.

When phrase of Holmes’s convictions dropped, the primary individual I spoke to concerning the information was good friend of mine who had additionally been following the trial carefully. “Are you shitting me?” have been his actual phrases. He was upset that Holmes had been convicted on solely 4 of the 11 counts she had been initially charged with, regardless of seeming fairly responsible. “White privilege,” he mentioned, as somebody who is aware of much more about it than I do as a white dude.

Sure, Elizabeth Holmes was convicted on 4 counts, every of which carries a doubtlessly severe jail time period. However she was acquitted on 4 different costs, and the jury deadlocked on the remaining three costs. A hung jury signifies that prosecutors can strive a defendant once more, however the authorities already mentioned in a submitting that it would dismiss the three counts on which the jury was unable to succeed in a verdict somewhat than retrying Holmes on these counts.

Prosecutors additionally proposed setting a sentencing listening to for September 12 — greater than 9 months after the top of her trial — and mentioned they have been agreeable to Holmes remaining free on a $500,000 bond secured by property within the meantime. To place the $500,000 bond in context, needless to say a number of high-profile traders in Theranos reportedly misplaced a mixed $600 million. Moreover, though it’s tough to evaluate precisely how a lot Holmes paid her protection workforce throughout trial, she had a military of high-powered white collar protection attorneys, and I’ve heard credible specialists estimate that such a authorized protection would have value any equally located defendant within the neighborhood of $10 million.

Perhaps there are good causes that triable counts in opposition to Holmes have been dropped earlier than anybody even is aware of what her sentence shall be for the counts she was convicted on. Certain, if the thought was to ship a message to Silicon Valley to reign within the hyperbole, maybe any felony conviction would do. Perhaps there are additionally good causes for Holmes to be out on such a paltry bail quantity, although she is arising with tens of millions of {dollars} to drop on a failed authorized protection and although she scammed her traders out of a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars}. Perhaps there are even good causes to delay sentencing for 9 months — hey, we’re all busy, I suppose.

There are causes behind these choices. But, although no person’s going to say out loud or admit to themselves that they’re dealing with Elizabeth Holmes with child gloves as a result of she’s a reasonably white woman, it’s tough to think about a Black or Latino man getting comparable therapy within the felony justice system.

I instructed my good friend that 10 years in the past, somebody like Elizabeth Holmes in all probability would have gotten off completely for her crimes. Perhaps in one other 10 years somebody like her will get convicted on all counts and be put away instantly. That’s progress, I mentioned, even when it doesn’t actually assist a poor minority defendant at present who’s convicted of some far much less severe crime. However I didn’t really feel excellent about it whilst I mentioned it.

Jonathan Wolf is a civil litigator and creator of Your Debt-Free JD (affiliate hyperlink). He has taught authorized writing, written for all kinds of publications, and made it each his enterprise and his pleasure to be financially and scientifically literate. Any views he expresses are in all probability pure gold, however are nonetheless solely his personal and shouldn’t be attributed to any group with which he’s affiliated. He wouldn’t wish to share the credit score anyway. He may be reached at

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