White Collar Partner Keri Curtis Axel was quoted by TheWrap on September 9, 2021 about Elizabeth Holmes’ possible domestic abuse defense in her Theranos fraud trial.
Axel, a former federal prosecutor, pointed out that most white-collar cases concern business, not romantic, partners, making the case and defense unusual. Holmes attorneys have presented documents that allege that Holmes’ business partner and lover, Theranos COO Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, was verbally abusive and controlled Holmes’s diet, sleep and appearance.
Federal prosecutors apparently intend to respond by presenting text messages that reveal a loving and intimate relationship between two people, rather than a picture of abuse.
But Axel said Holmes’ defense counsel will be able to counter: “Written communications are not always a full picture of what’s in somebody’s head,” Axel said. “People are not as good in written communication as they think they are. [The] defense is likely to point out that it’s not as clear.”
Holmes was the former CEO of Theranos, a company whose blood testing technology wowed Silicon Valley investors and was once valued at $9 billion. She faces 12 criminal counts of fraud and conspiracy for lying to investors and others about her company’s supposed breakthrough technology. In offering a domestic abuse as part of her defense, Holmes’ attorneys will have to show a connection between the alleged abuse and Holmes’s intent to defraud in her conduct as CEO.
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