By Robert Willmann
In the vernacular, this one became a long con. With the promise of multiple blood tests being run on a small device using only a drop or so of blood, the young female Chief Executive Officer of a company called Theranos enticed the following men to be on its board of directors: George P. Shultz, former US Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, and Secretary of Labor; Gary Roughead, retired US Navy admiral; William J. Perry, former US secretary of defense; Sam Nunn, former US senator who served as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations; Gen. James Mattis, retired US Marine Corps General who later became Secretary of Defense at the start of the Donald Trump administration; Richard Kovacevich, former CEO of Wells Fargo Bank; Henry A. Kissinger, former US Secretary of State; William H. Frist, a surgeon and a former US senator; William H. Foege, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Riley P. Bechtel, Chairman of the Board of the Bechtel Group Inc., a construction company once headed by George Shultz.
The artful young lady is Elizabeth Holmes, who was also the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors. The twelfth board member was Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who also had management positions at Theranos. Balwani became Elizabeth’s romantic partner, but as the con was coming apart, they broke up.
This fascinating story peaked on Monday, 3 January 2022, when the jury in Elizabeth’s federal criminal trial returned a guilty verdict on four charges, found her not guilty on four charges, and could not reach a verdict on three other ones . She testified from the witness stand in her own defense. While the trial was going on, the government prosecutors dismissed a twelfth charge, which was count 9 in the indictment. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) made a settlement in 2018 concerning civil fraud charges it had brought against Theranos, Elizabeth, and Balwani .