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Elizabeth Holmes claims witness remorse in new trial request

A woman speaks.
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes is seeking a new trial, saying one of the witnesses who helped prosecutors secure her fraud conviction has expressed remorse.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)
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Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asked for a new trial, alleging that a key witness in her criminal case visited her after the verdict and expressed misgivings about his testimony.

Holmes said in a court filing Tuesday that Adam Rosendorff, a former Theranos lab director, showed up at her home on Aug. 8 eager to talk to her about how he thought his testimony last fall had been twisted by prosecutors.

When he arrived about 6 p.m., Rosendorff was met at the door by Holmes’s partner, Billy Evans, who described the scientist in a court filing as “disheveled,” with an untucked shirt and messy hair. The two spoke briefly, including about the couple’s 1-year-old son, with Rosendorff insisting that he needed to talk to Holmes, and Evans telling the former lab director to leave, according to the filing.

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“He said he wants to help her,” Evans said, noting that Rosendorff’s voice was slightly trembling. “He said he is hurting. I remarked that it is easier to break things than to build them. He said that breaking things is the nature of America. He said that is what they did to Michael Jackson. They build things up only to tear them down.”

The allegations about a key government witness at the highest-profile trial in Silicon Valley history come eight months after Holmes was convicted of fraud and just weeks before she’s scheduled to be sentenced.

Rosendorff testified during Holmes’s trial that he emailed her about his concerns that the company’s blood analyzers weren’t ready for an imminent commercial rollout at Walgreens drugstores.

When Rosendorff spoke to Evans, he explained that “he tried to answer the questions honestly at Ms. Holmes’ trial, but the government tried to make everyone look bad,” according to her Tuesday filing.

“Under any interpretation of his statements, the statements warrant a new trial,” a lawyer for Holmes said in the filing. At a minimum, the court “should order an evidentiary hearing and permit Ms. Holmes to subpoena Dr. Rosendorff to testify about his concerns.”

Disgraced entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes portrays herself as a victim during testimony aimed at refuting accusations she lied about Theranos’ blood-testing technology.

Nov. 30, 2021

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The misgivings that Rosendorff voiced, absent any statement that he lied or didn’t testify accurately, probably won’t convince the judge that Holmes deserves a new trial, said Michael Weinstein, a criminal defense attorney not involved in the case.

“A witness having second thoughts and how they were generally perceived is not new in criminal trials but often don’t lead to new trials or much of anything,” Weinstein said in an email. “The burden for that is simply too high.”

Holmes, 38, was found guilty of defrauding investors and conspiracy for her role in the collapse of the blood-testing startup she founded that reached a peak valuation of $9 billion. Her ex-boyfriend and former Theranos President Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani was convicted in July of similar counts, as well as defrauding patients.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila on Tuesday issued an order rejecting Holmes’s long-shot attempt to get her fraud conviction thrown out, saying there was “sufficient evidence” for the jury to reach its verdict. Holmes’ bid for a new trial is another gamble that almost all white-collar criminal convicts make and rarely win.

At trial, Rosendorff testified that he “was raising the alarm bells,” adding that “I felt it was important for Elizabeth to be aware of these issues as the chief executive of the company.”

Daniel Koffmann, a lawyer who represented Rosendorff during the trial, declined to comment.

Lawyers for Holmes tried during the trial to undermine Rosendorff’s credibility by pointing out that he worked for other labs with regulatory troubles. Rosendorff spent multiple days on the witness stand and faced a grueling cross-examination.

After he left Theranos in 2014, Rosendorff went on to serve as a lab director at UBiome Inc., a Silicon Valley medical startup that collapsed in a morass of insolvency, regulatory investigations and criminal charges, similar to Theranos.

Rosendorff acknowledged that in 2021, two regulators who had investigated Theranos almost a decade earlier performed a review at PerkinElmer, the laboratory where he was working at the time. Rosendorff testified that he learned that the final outcome of the PerkinElmer review could lead to the suspension of his license.

It was also revealed that Rosendorff was a source for the Wall Street Journal reporter whose stories starting in 2015 led to the collapse of the blood-testing startup. He later appeared under a pseudonym in the 2018 book “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by the reporter, John Carreyrou.

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