The family of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos invested nearly $100million in Theranos after meeting with the blood-testing firm’s disgraced CEO Elizabeth Holmes, a court has heard.
Lisa Peterson, a director of the billionaire’s family office who managed private equity investments for their RDV Corporation, said she and members of the dynasty jetted out to Silicon Valley in 2014 to meet with the businesswoman who is currently on trial for wire fraud.
The DeVos family met with Holmes and her ex-boyfriend and former president at Theranos, Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani, while the couple were ‘hand picking’ wealthy families to invest in their company, Peterson told jurors.
The family of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos invested nearly $100million in Theranos after meeting with the blood-testing firm’s disgraced CEO Elizabeth Holmes
Holmes (pictured leaving court earlier this month with her mother Noel) is on trial over fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud over allegations that she misled investors, patients and doctors
Holmes’s trial over fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud over allegations that she misled investors, patients and doctors about the capabilities of Theranos’ blood-test technology is now in its eighth week.
Her Palo Alto company claimed its portable blood-testing devices could screen for diseases with a prick of a finger, but prosecutors claim she knew the technology didn’t work even as she peddled it to the public and investors.
Peterson told the US District Court in San Jose that Holmes had told the Devos family she was courting a small number of private backers in order to avoid pressure from larger firms to take Theranos public, The Daily Beast reported.
She said she believed that Holmes was ‘very much’ singling out the family to be a long-term investor for the health tech company.
During the 2014 summit, the DeVos family, including Betsy’s sister-in-law Cheri who received a Theranos blood test, spent five hours at the company headquarters prior to the investment.
Peterson testified: ‘To my knowledge, she received the results.’
The family and Peterson then gathered in the parking lot to discuss the planned $50million investment which they later doubled.
Among Theranos’ other investors were media tycoon Rupert Murdoch who pumped $125million into the company, project manager Daniel Edlin testified.
It comes after a third juror was dismissed from the fraud trial after admitting to playing Sudoku during trial testimony.
The female juror got the boot after it was discovered she kept Sudoku in a court-issued notebook and fiddled with the puzzle for up to ten days of court testimony, CNBC.com reported.
U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila questioned juror No. 5 in his chambers on Friday after being tipped off by a fellow juror via email.
Elizabeth Holmes (pictured) has been on trial for charges of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud
According to court transcripts, the juror said she played the Sudoku to help her focus (file image)
Assistant U.S. attorney Jeffrey Schenk and Holmes’ defense attorney Kevin Downey joined Davila in his chambers to question the juror.
According to court transcripts, the juror said she played the game to help her focus.
‘Were you playing this Sudoku?’ Davila asked the juror while in chambers.
‘I do have Sudoku, but it doesn’t interfere with me listening,’ the juror said. ‘I’m very fidgety, so I need to do something with my hands. So at home I’ll crochet while I’m watching or listening to TV.’
Davila asked the juror if playing the puzzle distracted her from listening and she said no.
‘Have you been able to follow and retain everything that is going on in the courtroom?’ Davila asked.
‘Oh, yeah, definitely,’ the juror replied to the judge.
A sketch of Elizabeth Holmes watching on as testimony takes place during her fraud trial in San Jose on September 22
U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila questioned juror No.5 in his chambers on Friday after being tipped off by a fellow juror via email
But Davila was apparently not convinced and juror No. 5 was replaced by an alternate.
‘The court had found good cause to excuse a juror,’ Davila told the courtroom on Friday without offering further explanation.
Juror No. 5 was the third juror to go after a Buddhist juror was dismissed in early October after telling the judge that if Holmes were found guilty and sent to prison for a ‘long, long time’ she would ‘feel like it’s my fault’.
Juror No. 4 told Davila that as a Buddhist, she believes in love and forgiveness.
‘I’m thinking of all the time she’ll be in jail,’ the juror – identified only as a dark-haired woman in a surgical mask and green floral blouse – told Davila, according to The Mercury News.
She added: ‘It’s very hard for me. I’m thinking what happens if she has to be in there for a long long time and I’m out here. I’ll feel like it’s my fault.’
According to The Mercury News, Davila explained to the woman that she cannot consider punishment when making decisions about a defendant.
Prior to the Buddhist juror, another person on the panel was dismissed after she found out she could not miss work for more than three months.