Elizabeth Holmes sentenced to 11 years in prison for Theranos fraud

Updated November 18, 2022 at 5:59 PM ET

Elizabeth Holmes, once the Silicon Valley star at the helm of blood testing startup Theranos, was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison on Friday after being convicted of fraud earlier this year.

“Looking back, there are so many things I would do differently if I had the chance. I regret my failure with every cell in my body,” Holmes told US District Judge Edward Davila before delivering the verdict in federal court in San Jose, California

Holmes’ defense attorneys had hoped for a short prison sentence or even house arrest. Now Holmes, 38, who is pregnant with her second child, is due to report to prison in April. After her release, she will be under legal supervision for three years.

“The tragedy of this case is that Ms. Holmes is brilliant,” Davila said before his statement. But he concluded that she was motivated by avarice and greed to lead investors to believe her company could do far more than she thought possible.

Prosecutors had argued 15 years behind bars, citing the huge financial loss and the need to prevent future fraudulent schemes in the tech industry.

In January, a jury convicted Holmes of four-wire fraud for her role in deceiving investors about a supposedly groundbreaking technology that could scan for hundreds of conditions with just a few drops of blood. It’s a feat lab scientists around the world have been trying to accomplish for years, but Holmes, a Stanford dropout, claimed she’s perfected it.

She drummed up nearly $1 billion in investment based on the premise that her proprietary blood-testing devices would revolutionize healthcare, but prosecutors argued during the trial that Holmes falsified test results, openly lied about the capabilities of her tests, and attempted to do so to cover up when whistleblowers and journalists began investigating what was really going on at the company.

It’s almost unheard of in Silicon Valley for an executive to be prosecuted after a business collapse. But legal experts said the enormity of Holmes’ crimes and the fact that she operated in the highly regulated world of healthcare made Theranos’ case extraordinary.

Still, Holmes’ indictment sparked a debate in tech circles about possible sexism, with some wondering why men who ran tech startups that failed after promises remained unfulfilled were never prosecuted.

However, it appears that high-flying tech startups are now coming under closer scrutiny. The Justice Department is reportedly investigating the now bankrupt FTX, a crypto trading exchange. Its latest implosion wiped out former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s $16 billion fortune in what Bloomberg called “one of the greatest wealth wipes of all time.”

Federal investigators are investigating the company’s dissolution, with legal experts discussing the specter of possible criminal charges.

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