Elizabeth Holmes Trial: Roger Parloff Fortune Story May Sink Some Investor Counts

In June 2014, Roger Parloff, a journalist, wrote a glowing cover story in Fortune praising Elizabeth Holmes and her blood-testing company Theranos. The Fortune cover story and potentially Parloff’s testimony may be a problem for the prosecution in the US v. Elizabeth Holmes felony wire fraud trial currently underway in San Jose California.

Why?

Well, if the jury finds that an investor relied upon representations made by others regarding Theranos, namely, the statements and representations made by Roger Parloff in the Fortune cover story, prior to the investor’s investment in Theranos, then, the jury may find reasonable doubt as to some of the investor fraud counts.

Another words, it could be argued that the investors relied upon and decided to invest in Theranos because of the now allegedly “materially false and fraudulent representations” made by Parloff‘s story not by Holmes. Or, in the alternative, it was the “representations” of both Holmes and Parloff’s story that induced or caused the investors to invest in Theranos. Given the testimony of investors David Mosley and Lisa Peterson who both testified that they relied upon the Fortune cover story, in addition to the claims made by Holmes, prior to investing in Theranos, counts 1, 7 and 8 of the Holmes indictment may be in jeopardy, specifically, the conspiracy to defraud investors, the $99,999,984 investment from the De Voss family per Lisa Peterson, and the $5,999,997 investment from Mosley into Theranos in October 2014, respectively.

Interestingly, it does not appear that either Mosley or Peterson sued Fortune, Parloff or Holmes for the alleged fraudulent representations. However, Parloff and Fortune, did publish a retraction to the Holmes cover story, “How Theranos Misled Me” in 2015. Prior to Parloff’s journalist career, he was a criminal litigator in Manhattan.

BTW, Parloff’s upcoming testimony in the Holmes trial may be limited subject to this Monday’s motion in limine hearing at 10 am. For example, the Fortune story, parts thereof, or Parloff’s opinion/findings may be excluded from his testimony. The Court may also revisit Magistrate Cousins ruling denying the defense’s request to release of Parloff’s notes for his cover story, presumably sought, to uncover, the exact words or statements made or not made by Holmes.

Simply my opinion, what say you?

BTW, I am providing legal analysis on the Holmes trial. Here are my interviews on CBS 5 KPIX San Francisco and CBS 5.