Former Holmes and Theranos chairman Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani was charged in June 2018 with nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Federal prosecutors allege that the two men – who had a romantic relationship during the alleged crimes – engaged in a conspiracy to defraud Theranos investors of more than $ 100 million and defraud doctors and patients in their area. mistakenly believing that the company’s flawed blood testing technology could perform accurate health tests with just drops of blood from a finger prick.
According to the court document filed this week, Holmes – who is currently on trial separately from Balwani – notified the court last December that she planned to submit “expert evidence regarding a mental illness or defect or other mental condition” which affects the question of guilt. The expert who provided such evidence was named in the document as psychologist Mindy Mechanic, of California State University, Fullerton.
According to the Mechanic Faculty website, she focuses on “the psychosocial consequences of violence, trauma and victimization, with an emphasis on violence against women and other forms of violence. interpersonal ”. The site also notes that Mechanic “frequently provides expert testimony in complex legal cases involving interpersonal violence.”
The court document goes on to say what the specific mental health testimony will cover, but the information is redacted.
In response to Holmes ‘plans to provide mental health evidence, federal prosecutors have asked that they should also be able to examine Holmes’ mental state and provide their own psychiatric evidence in court as a fair rebuttal. .
The judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila of the Northern District of California, agreed with prosecutors. In that capacity, he ordered Holmes to undergo up to 14 hours of psychological testing and psychiatric assessment by two government-appointed doctors over two consecutive days. Davila also ordered the government’s assessment of Holmes to be videotaped – despite Holmes’ objections.
The defense of mental condition in the latest twist in the long and dramatic saga of Theranos and its beloved founder turned outcast. Holmes, a dropout, gained media attention after founding her startup in 2003 at the age of 19. She was known for her Steve Jobs-style fashion choices and bold claims of technological prowess. In 2014, the company was valued at $ 9 billion.
But according to several media inquiries since, Theranos’ technology was flawed and most of the company’s claims were misleading or false. Behind the scenes, Balwani co-ran the company with Holmes and was reportedly known in the office as “the performer.”
Holmes had met Balwani while they were both studying Mandarin at Peking University in the summer of 2002, when she was around 18 and 37. They later fell in love and Balwani joined the company in 2009.
Holmes’ trial is currently scheduled for March 2021 with Balwani’s trial expected to follow. They both face up to 20 years in prison.