Former Theranos employee describes being starstruck by Elizabeth Holmes
September 15, 2021 at 02:03
San Jose, California (CNN Business) The criminal trial of Theranos founder and former CEO Elizabeth Holmes resumed Tuesday with the first full day of witness testimony.
Two former employees, including Erika Cheung, who reported the company to regulators in 2015, took the stand.
Cheung, a lab worker, joined Theranos in 2013 out of undergrad and described being excited about working for the blood-testing startup despite it being secretive about its technology and capabilities during the interview process.
She said she was "starstruck" by Holmes, who had been upheld in the media as a rare female founder of a billion-dollar startup.
But the allure of the company soon gave way to red flags about the company's testing practices.
Those concerns included questions about the accuracy of some tests, such as ones performed on Cheung's blood samples that determined a Vitamin D deficiency she said she didn't have.
She said the company at that time was only capable of processing a few of the tests it offered using its technology, and instead used a combination of third-party machines and contractors.
Cheung left the company after roughly six months, testifying that she was "uncomfortable processing patient samples" and that she didn't feel the company's technology was "adequate" to perform the task.
Cheung was the second former employee to take the stand Tuesday in the long-awaited trial of Holmes, who faces a dozen counts of federal fraud and conspiracy charges over allegations she knowingly misled investors, patients, and doctors about the capabilities of her company's proprietary blood testing technology.
Holmes, who has pleaded not guilty, faces up to 20 years in prison.