It’s not the kind of notoriety she’s interested in sharing – at least with a judge and jury – but that’s what is going to happen in the trial of Theranos Inc. founder and self-made billionaire Elizabeth Holmes.
Holmes’ penchant for enjoying the finer things in life is fair game, according to a judge’s ruling on Saturday, with certain limitations.
Theranos was shuttered following a Wall Street Journal investigation that exposed unproven technology and questionable business practices at her blood-testing startup once valued at $9 billion.
U.S. District Judge Edward Davila said in the ruling late Saturday he’ll allow prosecutors to use Holmes’ luxurious lifestyle.
“This includes salary, travel, celebrity, and other perks and benefits commensurate with the position,” Davila wrote. “Each time Holmes made an extravagant purchase, it is reasonable to infer that she knew her fraudulent activity allowed her to pay for those items.”
The limitations include seeking to eliminate improper “appeals to class prejudice,” Davila wrote.
Amy Saharia, a lawyer for Holmes, said in a CNBC story the trial in San Jose, Calif., is “going to be a sprawling mess of irrelevant, prejudicial evidence.”
Prosecutors said in a court filing: “The evidence at trial will show that these benefits were meaningful to the defendant, who closely monitored daily news to cultivate her image.”
A key part of the prosecution’s case is Holmes’ lavish living, which, along with her relationships with power people, could be used to illustrate her reasons to commit fraud.
”People should not be punished merely for being wealthy, just as they should not be punished merely for being poor, but if someone profited from a crime, then the fruits of their crime is fair game to show their guilt and motive,” Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. Attorney who teaches at the University of Michigan law school, told Bloomberg.