Elizabeth Holmes's defense questions ex-Theranos lab director's credibility

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos Inc., is leaving San Jose Federal Court on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 with her husband, Billy Evans.
SAN JOSE (CALIF) In the first dramatic confrontation at Elizabeth Holmes' trial defense attorney Lance Wade aggressively questioned former lab director of the company about his credibility.

"Did your lab tests prove inaccurate or not reliable at the time?" Wade asked Adam Rosendorff in the courtroom Thursday.

Rosendorff responded, "No, I told the laboratory to stop testing and I raised concerns with management."

"And Ms. Holmes never asked you to report an incorrect result, correct?" Wade asked Rosendorff, and he agreed.

Wade raised his voice and repeatedly asked Rosendorff if his testimony had been scripted by federal prosecutors or agents during their numerous meetings.

Rosendorff was employed at Theranos between 2013 and 2014. Rosendorff testified that he believed Theranos would be "the next Apple" when he first joined it. Rosendorff stated that he applied for the job after studying a biography of Steve Jobs, Apple's founder.

Rosendorff stated that the "emotion around Steve Jobs was very compelling" to him. "I wanted to have a greater global impact on healthcare, and I believed that joining a diagnostics firm would allow me to do that."

Wade showed Rosendorff Walter Isaacson's biography about Jobs which he testified that he had read. Wade asked him why he was so surprised at Theranos intense secrecy, and poor public relations.

"You knew that PR and marketing was a key element to Apple's success, right?" Wade asked. Rosendorff stated that Apple was able to understand the needs of individuals and adapt its technology accordingly.

Wade also asked Rosendorff whether he remembered "from the book" the strict secrecy Mr. Jobs imposed upon R&D projects at Apple. For example, reviewing new technology in a password-protected room.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila said, "This isn’t the time to write a book report."

The intense cross-examination came after newly unsealed documents revealed notes from federal agents who interviewed two Theranos insiders regarding Holmes' relationship to Ramesh Balwani, her top executive and romantic partner.

Nicole Canas was a Theranos administrator and receptionist from 2010 to 2011. She told investigators that Holmes and Balwani "worked together as a team." Theranos was all about Holmes and Balwani's desires.

According to the interview notes, "The interactions between Holmes & Balwani were those that were equals." "Canas couldn't recall Holmes or Balwani contradicting one another," the interview notes stated.

Holmes may argue that Balwani controlled her. This could be part of Holmes' defense. Holmes could testify that Balwani controlled and manipulated her, as revealed in previously unreleased documents. Balwani refutes the allegations.

Interview notes by Paige Williams (a former personal assistant to Holmes between 2015 and 2018) reveal similar views on their relationship.

According to the interview, Williams did not witness any shouting between Holmes and Balwani. "Williams didn't see any cruel behavior between Balwani or Holmes, either verbal nor physical," the interview said. Balwani seemed to admire Holmes very much."

Federal agents stated that Williams did not see any arguments at the residence. Williams said that the residence was "much more relaxed" than the office. According to interview notes, Holmes and Balwani wanted their home to have a "zen-like and relaxed atmosphere."

Williams was reminded of Valentine's Day 2014, when Holmes and Balwani both asked Williams to surprise each other with flowers at their home. The notes stated that Holmes asked Williams to purchase a Hermes Apple watch for Balwani. Federal agents were told by Williams that Balwani often bought Holmes flowers for anniversaries or birthdays.

Holmes and Balwani face a variety of criminal wire fraud charges and conspiracy. After an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, which revealed inaccuracies in blood-test results and questionable business practices, Theranos, their startup for blood testing, fell apart in 2018.

Williams stated that "Holmes flew chartered planes" when she first started at Theranos. However, "after the Wall Street Journal article there was a shift towards commercial planes."

Wednesday's cross examination of Rosendorff will continue.