Pandemic delays trial for Theranos' Elizabeth Holmes

FILE PHOTO: Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes arrives for a hearing at a federal court in San Jose, California, U.S., July 17, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

(Reuters) - A federal judge on Wednesday postponed the fraud trial of Theranos Inc founder Elizabeth Holmes to Oct. 27, citing the coronavirus pandemic that has largely shut down courts.

Holmes, 36, is accused of misleading patients and investors about the capabilities of Theranos’ blood tests. Her trial had been scheduled to begin on July 28, but U.S. District Judge Edward Davila in California said at a telephone conference that concern for safety required the delay.

Holmes, a Stanford University dropout who started Theranos at age 19, was celebrated as a rising Silicon Valley star before her indictment in June 2018 alongside Sunny Balwani, the company’s former president and her one-time boyfriend.

The downfall of Palo Alto, California-based Theranos, once valued at $9 billion, followed Wall Street Journal reports in 2015 that its technology, which offered the hope of blood tests using just one drop of blood, did not work.

Prosecutors have claimed that Holmes and Balwani promoted the company’s tests to patients and investors even though they knew Theranos was incapable of consistently producing accurate and reliable results.

They have pleaded not guilty.

Holmes’ lawyer, Lance Wade, had requested a postponement until early next year. He said prosecutors recently disclosed that they intend to file new charges expanding the period of the alleged fraud and naming new investors, which would require more time for the defense to prepare.