Key Theranos Witness Tied by Holmes to Other Troubled Labs
(Bloomberg) -- A former Theranos Inc. lab director who was the primary source for media reporting that took down the company came under fire from Elizabeth Holmes’s lawyers over his work for another medical startup that fell into scandal.
Adam Rosendorff, a medical doctor who testified as a government witness at Holmes’s fraud trial that he quit the blood-testing startup in disgust, went on to serve as a lab director at uBiome Inc. -- which collapsed in a morass of insolvency, regulatory probes and criminal charges, similar to Theranos.
Lance Wade, an attorney for Holmes, called Rosendorff “incompetent” and said in court Tuesday he wants to question the witness about his work after he resigned from Theranos at three other labs that had records of deficiencies. U.S. District Judge Edward Davila said he has “qualms” about allowing that line of cross-examination and will make a decision later in the day.
Wade said the same regulators who have aided prosecutors in the Holmes case are evaluating Rosendorff’s work after he left Theranos, adding that Rosendorff initially hid his employment at uBiome from federal investigators. He also worked at Invitae and is now employed by PerkinElmer.
“He was incompetent at Theranos, too,” Wade said, arguing that the jury could find Holmes not culpable for wrongdoing when her lab director “appears to be not qualified” to perform the job.
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In turning the tables on Rosendorff, Holmes’s lawyers are trying to land a counter-punch to testimony from a procession of witnesses who have portrayed her as willing to cut corners on quality control and scientific standards to get her product to market, even at the expense of patient safety. The defense team has struggled so far to significantly undermine anything prosecutors have presented to the jury.
Daniel Koffmann, a lawyer representing Rosendorff, said he wouldn’t comment until Rosendorff finishes his testimony.
Prosecutor John Bostic told the judge Rosendorff was absent from work at uBiome for periods due to a medical issue and that it’s not clear that his competence as a lab director had anything to do with his departure from the company. Two people have been criminally charged in the uBiome case, Bostic said, “and Dr. Rosendorff was not one of them.”
The issues at uBiome shouldn’t be raised at Holmes’s trial, Bostic said, because that case centers on insurance billing and not testing accuracy. “Dr. Rosendorff as the lab director had nothing to do with the billing practices.” The notion that Rosendorff will be biased in his testimony due to any perception he faces liability for alleged wrongdoing at uBiome is “completely speculative,” he added.
A fraud complaint in March by the Securities and Exchange Commission against the founders of uBiome, which analyzed DNA from fecal samples, says they were warned in 2017 by their then-laboratory director that their testing practices could be fraudulent. It’s not clear whether Rosendorff was then serving as the company’s lab director.
A LinkedIn profile for Rosendorff doesn’t mention uBiome. For his stint of almost two years working under Holmes, Rosendorff’s profile doesn’t list Theranos by name, instead referring to “a privately held biotechnology company.”
Rosendorff previously told jurors that he resigned from Theranos because he was appalled by failures in the company’s blood-testing technology that he said jeopardized patient health. He said Holmes and then-Theranos President Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani repeatedly ignored his warnings in their push for recognition and profitability.
On his way out the door in 2014, the lab director testified, Balwani tried to get him to stay and he refused to shake Balwani’s hand after declining.
Rosendorff revealed to the jury that he was a source for the Wall Street Journal reporting that caused Theranos to unravel -- ultimately leading to the indictments of Homes and Balwani in 2018. Balwani, who faces the same charges as Holmes, has pleaded not guilty and is set for a separate trial next year.
Rosendorff also testified that over the years has talked about Theranos to prosecutors and officials at various federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Postal Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation.
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