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Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes testifies in her wire fraud trial

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes testifies in her wire fraud trial
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes testified Friday as the defense began its case in wire fraud trial. File Photo by John Anglillo/UPI

Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has taken the stand to defend herself in her wire fraud trial in San Jose, Calif.

Holmes, an entrepreneur who founded the blood-testing start-up Theranos in 2003, faces wire fraud charges for an alleged scheme to defraud investors, which led the company to dissolve in September 2018.

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She was indicted earlier that year along with former Theranos President Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani for allegedly making false and misleading statements to investors about developing a device that could run a full range of blood tests with only a finger-prick sample. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Holmes, 37, testified Friday after the prosecution rested its case earlier in the day after calling nearly 30 witnesses in the 11th week of the trial.

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"I met with everyone I could who worked in pharma or knew someone who worked in pharma to try to understand what they did and what they might be interested in," she said while talking about the early days of Theranos.

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Holmes' lawyer, Kevin Downey, asked her whether she founded "technology that was capable of running any blood tests," and she answered yes.

During an hour of testimony, Holmes also spoke about Theranos employees conducting a demonstration for pharmaceutical company Novartis during the early years of the company.

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"We nailed this one," Holmes wrote in an email to the team afterwards. "You all did an incredible job in making this happen -- this is the Theranos way," she wrote.

Reporter John Carreyrou wrote in the book, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup that the device malfunctioned the night before the demonstration and employees sent over a fake result from the California office.

Holmes' testimony was expected to continue Monday.

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The government has argued that she had the intent to defraud investors as she built the $9 billion startup knowing the blood tests didn't work, while defense lawyers have said she made mistakes but acted in good faith.

The defense also called a second witness Friday, Fabrizio Bonanni, who joined Theranos' board of directors in 2016, and described the efforts the start-up made to improve its policies and practices after investigations started about the company's claims.

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Balwani faces trial next year.

Holmes and Balwani were initially charged with nine counts of wire fraud each and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, but superseding indictments stretched into last year, adding a 12th fraud charge against Holmes.

On Friday, the judge dismissed the 12th charge against Holmes because the court ruled earlier that the patient could not testify.

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