Elizabeth Holmes’ Appeal Questions Competence of CLIA Lab Director

Former Theranos CEO is labeled a ‘flight risk’ by prosecutors, drawing the ire of defense team

TANTALIZING DETAILS ABOUT FORMER THERANOS CEO ELIZABETH HOLMES’ purchase of a one-way plane ticket to Mexico prior to her conviction grabbed headlines following the filing of a motion to appeal her conviction. 

However, for clinical laboratory directors, the relevant information in the latest motion filed by Holmes’ lawyers centers on Adam Rosendorff, MD, a pathologist who was a star government witness in Holmes’ trial. Rosendorff was lab director for Theranos under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA). He worked for 21 months at the troubled blood testing lab. 

Appeal Mentions Pathologist

Following his departure as laboratory director at Theranos in 2014, Rosendorff worked in similar roles at Invitae, uBiome, and PerkinElmer. All three companies experienced alleged testing or CLIA improprieties during Rosendorff’s tenures there, according to the defense. The Dark Report chronicled those situations. 

During Holmes’ trial, the judge limited defense questioning of Rosendorff about problems at the three companies where he served as the CLIA laboratory director after working at Theranos. 

“The fact that three laboratories Dr. Rosendorff oversaw after leaving Theranos had problems was probative of Dr. Rosendorff’s competence as a laboratory director, his credibility as a witness, and the frequency of potential issues at high complexity laboratories,” the defense stated. 

Prosecutors retorted that there is no evidence Rosendorff’s work at subsequent companies provided any “motive for Dr. Rosendorff to lie or slant his testimony,” the government wrote in its response. 

Holmes a Flight Risk?

In the same court filings, prosecutors said Holmes and her partner, William Evans, bought one-way tickets to Mexico in December 2021, a fact confirmed by her lawyers. Prosecutors argued this information paints Holmes as a “flight risk” and that she should not be allowed to remain free pending her appeal, as her lawyers have requested. 

Holmes is scheduled to report to federal prison on April 27 to serve 11 years and three months for defrauding Theranos investors. (See TDR, “Holmes, Balwani Get Lengthy Prison Terms for Theranos Fraud,” Dec. 12, 2022.)

The defense team countered that Holmes bought the ticket to attend a friend’s wedding prior to her conviction in January 2022. She did not take the flight and surrendered her passport as part of the terms of her release pending sentencing. Evans did make the trip and returned to the U.S. later.

Defense lawyers said the government was aware of what had transpired with the ticket in 2022 and had made “factual misrepresentations” in its recent filing. A hearing on Elizabeth Holmes’ motion to delay the start of her prison term pending her appeal will be held on March 17, PBS News Hour reported. 



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