A group of well-dressed women who’ve been spotted accompanying Elizabeth Holmes to her fraud trial are her Stanford pals and sorority sisters, it has been claimed.
The disgraced former Theranos chief executive called former friends and sorority sisters from Kappa Alpha Theta at Stanford University to ask if they would accompany her to court as a show of support during her trial for fraud.
One of them has been identified as Jackie Lamping, who attended college with Holmes, and now works as a marketing boss in New York City.
While not all of them accepted the invitation – CNBC reports one friend backed out over being uncomfortable with the request – several of Holmes’ sorority sisters were spotted alongside her this week as she takes the stand for her ongoing trial.
Multiple smartly-dressed blonde women around the same age as Holmes have been spotted accompanying her to previous hearings, including the opening of her trial in September.
Holmes, pictured, smiled and hugged several women, who refused tell reporters their names, after leaving court
One of the women who has accompanied Holmes to her trial is her old Stanford pal Jackie Lamping, pictured left. Lamping now works in marketing in New York City
Pictured: Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes leaves after attending her fraud trial at federal court in San Jose, where several of her former sorority sisters joined her for support
All have refused to disclose their identity when asked by curious onlookers, with the posse’s glossy appearance and physical similarities to Holmes herself sparking amusement among onlookers.
Another woman told reporters she is originally from Croatia, and claimed not to remember her name when asked for it.
And the 37-year-old’s friends, none of whom identified themselves when asked, may serve a more important purpose than simple moral support.
According to several legal analysts, the ‘seen with friends’ strategy is a common one, and is often beneficial when jurors see the accused supported by a number of people.
‘Jurors are watching the behavior of the people who show up to support her,’ said Katherine James, a trial consultant based in Los Angeles.
‘There is a strong belief that if there are people with you that the jury is going to like it will rub off on you.’
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes arrives to attend her fraud trial at federal court on November 22
But the strategy could also work against her favor.
‘I’d be careful if I were Elizabeth Holmes,’ Alan Tuerkheimer, a Chicago attorney and trial consultant, said.
‘Of course, she’s going to try and show an image that resonates with the jury, but if they see that as any kind of manipulative ploy to impress them then it could entirely backfire.’
Of the mystery women who have been spotted with Holmes at trial, one said she is originally from Croatia, played tennis and travels to San Jose for the trial, while another, identified by CNBC as Jackie Lamping, is a marketing executive based in New York, according to her LinkedIn.
While Holmes’ managed to convince several friends and former sorority members, other people from her past told CNBC that the stunt was merely done to improve her optics and control the narrative.
‘She has an arrogance of nobody can do as good a job as I can,’ said another former friend, who knew Holmes well and also spoke anonymously out of fear of retaliation.
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes becomes emotional as she is cross-examined by prosecutor Robert Leach at Robert F. Peckham US Courthouse during her trial in San Jose
Pictured: Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes is cross examined by prosecutor Robert Leach at Robert F. Peckham U.S. Courthouse during her trial, in San Jose on November 30
Pictured: Elizabeth Holmes seen on November 23, leaving court with her current partner Billy Evans
‘My suspicion is that she didn’t intend to testify, but after watching the trial unfold she decided that she’s best suited to defend herself.’
Holmes famously duped a series of sophisticated investors to raise $945 million for Theranos, a blood-testing startup she founded back in 2003 when she was just 19-years-old.
Holmes’ trial is an effort to convince the jury that while she made mistakes, she did not commit a crime.
‘She has 945 million reasons to believe and be confident in her ability to persuade,’ the former friend said.
‘She can’t help herself, look at the circus she has created around her with holding her mom’s hand who she’s not particularly close with and engaging acquaintances from Stanford for a show of force.’
Elsewhere during Holmes’ trial, the disgraced former Theranos CEO also claimed her ex-boyfriend Sunny Balwani once gave her controlling handwritten instructions on how to become ‘the new Elizabeth.’
The document, released as evidence this week during the ongoing trial, includes mantras such as ‘I will never meet with anyone for more than five minutes unless I have written down why.’
The three pages of scrawlings outline how Holmes should start her day, beginning with forcing herself out of bed and spending 30 minutes – ‘never a minute less’ – writing down the day’s goals.
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes arrives to attend her fraud trial at federal court in San Jose on November 22
The document, released as evidence this week during the ongoing trial, include mantras such as ‘I will never meet with anyone for more than five minutes unless I have written down why’
‘I will spend 20 percent of my time (80 percent) on things that are important to cash flow (short-term cash flow and long-term strategy and will spend <20 percent on urgent and non-important stuff,’ the note says.
In court earlier this week, Holmes sobbed as she accused Balwani of abusing her and forcing her into sex.
On Monday, in her fourth day testifying in her fraud trial, Holmes accused Balwani, 56, of being abusive and controlling, and forcing her to have sex against her will during their 12 year relationship, which ended in 2016.
‘He would force me to have sex with him when I didn’t want to because he would say that he wanted me to know he still loved me,’ said Holmes, in tears.
She told the court that Balwani, a Pakistan-born multimillionaire who made his fortune in the dot com boom in Silicon Valley, controlled what she ate and how she lived.
She said that he was biting in his criticism of how she ran the company.’
In court, Holmes accused Balwani (pictured) of being abusive and controlling, and forcing her to have sex against her will during their 12 year relationship, which ended in 2016
Pictured: Holmes is seen with her ex Balwani, the company’s chief operating officer, in 2015
‘He told me that I didn’t know what I was doing in business, that my convictions were wrong, that he was astonished by my mediocrity and that if I followed my instincts I was going to fail,’ she said.
He once told her ‘I was never going to be a person who would succeed in life or in business, so I needed to kill that person and become a new Elizabeth,’ Holmes told the court.
The directives he wrote her in cursive appear to offer instructions on reinventing herself, down to how she should treat her employees.
‘I will always give crisp, clean goals to my subordinates, even if they don’t like it – especially if they don’t like it,’ the note said. ‘I will not assume that people will do the “right” or noble thing.
‘They are not motivated by what I am motivated by,’ it continued, bizarrely adding: ‘Don’t feed pasta and pesto to fish.’
Two pages of the note are devoted to the ‘pursuit of success in business’ and the author lays out the argument that success is a science rather than an art or ‘black magic.’
The former couple met when she was 18 on a trip to China organized by Stanford University.
Holmes becomes emotional as she is asked to read romantic texts between herself and Balwani during cross examination by prosecutor Robert Leach at Robert F. Peckham U.S. Courthouse during her trial, in San Jose, California, in this courtroom sketch, November 30
Holmes is accused of lying about Theranos, which had touted technology that supposedly could run diagnostic tests more quickly and accurately than traditional lab testing with a drop of blood from a finger prick
When she dropped out of the university to start the medical testing company Theranos in 2003, she contacted him and the pair became romantically involved. He joined the company in 2009, as chief operating officer.
Theranos collapsed in 2018 after it emerged that the company was built on false scientific premises.
Holmes is accused of nine counts of wire fraud, and two of conspiracy, and could face 20 years in prison if convicted.
Her lawyers are arguing that Balwani – who will be tried next year – manipulated and took advantage of Holmes.
‘Trusting and relying on Mr Balwani as her primary adviser was one of her mistakes,’ said Lance Wade, Holmes’s lawyer, in opening statements in September.
She is accused of lying about Theranos, which had touted technology that supposedly could run diagnostic tests more quickly and accurately than traditional lab testing with a drop of blood from a finger prick.
Balwani in his letter laid out the ‘secret sauce of success’ for Holmes and said anyone who follows the ingredients are bound to succeed.’
Balwani in his letter laid out the ‘secret sauce of success’ for Holmes and said anyone who follows the ingredients are bound to succeed’
It’s not clear when the instructions were written.
‘The single most important ingredient to this secret sauce is writing,’ the letter said. ‘The second most important is “self-discovery” thru (sic) writing.’
The bizarre note continues with: ‘all the laws of nature, all secrets are imprinted on every cell of our body. Using our intellect and self-discovery (contemplation and writing) we unlock those secrets.’
The letter instructs Holmes to create a file for every person she interacts with and load it up with missives she drafts before each meeting.
‘If you don’t have a plan, others will for you and you will react to other people’s plans and be always at the mercy of their intentions,’ the letter said.
‘People have their plans, conscience or not. But if your plans are stronger (and you have a plan for them), then you will always succeed over them.’
Theranos’ trial continues.
15 YEARS OF THERANOS
2003 – Holmes dropped out of Stanford University at 19 to found Theranos, pitching its technology as a cheaper way to run dozens of blood tests with just a prick of a finger and a few droplets of blood. Holmes said she was inspired to start the company in response to her fear of needles.
2004 – Theranos raises $6.9million and is valued at $30million.
2007 – Theranos is valued at $200million.
2010 – Investors bought what Holmes was selling and invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the company. She said in a July Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing that it had raised $45million. It is valued at $1billion.
2013 – Theranos announces partnership with Walgreens.
2014 – Theranos was worth more than $9billion and Holmes the nation’s youngest self-made female billionaire, hailed by Fortune magazine.
Elizabeth Holmes, founder and chief executive officer of Theranos Inc., speaks during the 2015 Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, California, on November 2, 2015
February 2015 – In The Journal of the American Medical Association, a Stanford School of Medicine professor criticizes failure to publish anything in peer-reviewed biomedical journals. A notoriously secretive company, Theranos shared very little about its blood-testing machine with the public or medical community.
October 2015 – An investigation by The Wall Street Journal found that Theranos’ technology was inaccurate at best, and that the company was using routine blood-testing equipment for the vast majority of its tests. The story raised concerns about the accuracy of Theranos’ blood testing technology, which put patients at risk of having conditions either misdiagnosed or ignored, and Theranos temporarily halts finger prick tests.
June 2016 – Walgreens ended its blood-testing partnership with the company.
July 2016 – Department of Health and Human Services effectively banned Theranos in 2016 from doing any blood testing work at all.
2018 – Holmes forfeits control of Theranos and agrees to pay a $500,000 fine to settle charges by the SEC that she had committed a ‘massive fraud’ that saw investors pour $700million into the firm.