Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes sentenced to over 11 years in prison for fraud

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Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has been sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison after being found guilty in January on four out of 11 counts of defrauding investors. Holmes has been the subject of multiple podcasts, documentaries and dramatizations of her story, most notably the series The Dropout, in which Amanda Seyfried won an Emmy for portraying her. Holmes, 38, is currently pregnant with her second child. She had her first child, son William, with her partner, hotel heir Billy Evans, 29, in July of 2021. It’s been speculated that Holmes’ pregnancies were bids to avoid prison time. She is not scheduled to report to custody until late April, I would assume after she gives birth.

Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison on Friday following her conviction in January for defrauding investors while running the failed blood testing startup Theranos.

Judge Edward Davila imposed a sentence of 11 years and three months in prison, with another three years of supervision after Holmes is released. The sentence also includes a fine of $400, or $100 for each count of fraud. Restitution will be set at a later date. Holmes was ordered to turn herself into custody on April 27, 2023. She is expected to appeal her conviction.

Holmes, who was found guilty in January on four charges of defrauding investors, faced up to 20 years in prison as well as a fine of $250,000 plus restitution for each count.

Lawyers for the government asked for a 15-year prison term, as well as probation and restitution, while Holmes’ probation officer pushed for a nine-year term. Holmes’ defense team asked Davila, who presided over her case, to sentence her to up to 18 months of incarceration followed by probation and community service.

Before the sentencing was announced, a tearful Holmes spoke to the court in San Jose, California. “I loved Theranos. It was my life’s work,” she said. “The people I tried to get involved with Theranos were the people I loved and respected the most. I am devastated by my failings.”
She also apologized to the employees, investors and patients of Theranos. “I’m so, so sorry. I gave everything I had to build our company and to save our company,” she said. “I regret my failings with every cell in my body.”

“The judge imposed a powerful sentence that confirms that fraud cannot masquerade as innovation in Silicon Valley,” said George Demos, a former SEC enforcement attorney and adjunct law professor at UC Davis. “When given the opportunity to speak, Elizabeth Holmes made a statement that she takes responsibility for Theranos but did not say she takes responsibility for the fraud.”

[From CNN]

I listened to the original Dropout podcast and watched The Dropout series and The Inventor documentary on HBO. As I’ve mentioned, I have zero sympathy for Holmes and a lot of respect for the employees who blew the whistle on her fraud and lies. She deserves more than 11 years, her deception harmed a lot of people, not just monetarily. She ran Theranos like a cult with loyalty and secrecy valued above all and no concern for the people whose health and money she was jeopardizing. I give zero sh-ts that she’s pregnant now. Her partner and relatives can raise the baby. Just because other criminals have received less time doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t face consequences. The prison system is cruelly punitive to mothers and that needs to change but this is not the case where an exception should be made.

Holmes’ co-conspirator, Sunny Balwani, has been found guilty in a separate trial of all 12 charges against him. His sentencing is scheduled for December 7.

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42 Responses to “Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes sentenced to over 11 years in prison for fraud”

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  1. Naomi says:

    So many incarcerated women, especially Black and indigenous women, have given birth while handcuffed to a bed. Many as well have delivered a baby by themselves, in their cells. These are human rights abuses.

    Elizabeth should consider herself lucky if she gets to deliver her baby before reporting to prison.

    • Lucy says:

      Exactly. I do not wish that experience on anyone giving birth, but she absolutely got pregnant as a sympathy bid. She knew prison was a distinct possibility and did it anyway, with no regard for her children. Psychopath.

      • Stac says:

        There is still no accountability. None, nada, zilch. She doesn’t haven’t to turn herself in until April 27, 2023 and she’s going to appeal to avoid serving more time? SMH. She strategically put so many people’s lives and livelihoods at risk and it’s Heavily documented. I feel so much for the whistleblowers and can’t forget how their lives were turned upside down and they felt terrorized by her high power litigation team. Saying she’s a danger to society is an understatement. As far as being mother? I hope CPS os on standby for that evil woman. She is absolutely getting some kind of special treatment and it turns my stomach. Let’s see how quickly Sunny, a POC has to turn himself in. The pregnancy ( if it’s true) should not matter the same way it doesn’t matter for countless other women when they are sentenced for way less.

      • Digital Unicorn says:

        Lets also not forget the father of both children comes from a very wealthy and influential family – it was a calculated move on her part. She will be financially looked after either way.

      • Josephine says:

        I think psychopath is exactly right. 11 years is not enough in my opinion. this is someone who will continue to grift her entire life and has no problem bringing a baby into the grift.

    • sunny says:

      I’m just glad she got jail time at all. I bet it will get lessened on appeal even though her crimes are disgusting.

      And yes, everything you mentioned about the way pregnant women are treated by the system is absolutely true and there should be a discussion starting with how the prison system treats marginalized, pregnant mothers.

  2. Cel2495 says:

    Good. She truly deserved to go to jail. She put so many people lives at risk with her bs blood machines and Scammed millions out of investors. It was all so crazy and I think she thought that having babies and getting pregnant during her trial she will get more sympathy.
    I hope other people that have done the same and word than her face their consequences too… yes I am talking about that orange monster and his family.

    • Tacky says:

      If she ever goes to jail, it won’t be for 11 years. I predict she will be placed under house arrest while she appeals her conviction. If she doesn’t outright win her appeal, her sentence will likely be reduced significantly.

      • SamC says:

        It’s a federal case, so not uncommon for nonviolent offenders to have a delayed date to report or to stay out while the appeal goes through the process. On the other hand, feds are usually pretty solid in their work and not a lot of overturned convictions.

        She’ll also likely serve most of the sentence. Feds give credit for good behavior but don’t do early release for overcrowding, parole, etc.

  3. Crybaby says:

    Her idea was heavily and had fantastic marketing which propelled her product way ahead of its ability to perform. Yet anyone knowledgeable on lab / blood diagnosis would be dubious that a small box could yield results for the number of conditions it was supposed to handle. She knew it didn’t work and actively covered it up. Trying to come up with a breakthrough in medical diagnosis isn’t easy and credit for people working towards that, but covering up falsifying results is criminal.

    • Jen says:

      yep. she deliberately went after investors who didn’t have the expertise. virtually no investors with biotech experience. not that their errors mitigate her mendacity and criminality, but it’s a valuable skill to know the limits of your own skills and knowledge.

      • hme says:

        I think the whole mess with Theranos really drives home how important science education is for everyone. And that we should be teaching everyone critical thinking skills too. I have grade 10 biology and grade 12 chemistry, from 20 years ago, and that is the extent of my science education and even I could tell her claims were bullish!t. Regardless of science or medical expertise way, WAY, more people should have been skeptical of her claims of running 100s of blood tests on just ONE tiny sample of blood. They can’t even run hundreds of tests from one VIAL of blood yet so how the hell anyone seriously thought she was doing it from just a few drops is beyond me. Its alarming frankly.

  4. Steph says:

    I don’t remember when I first heard of her and this case but I’m pretty sure it was way before the pandemic. She chose to get pregnant and have children knowing coming full well she could be getting a really long prison sentence. I don’t feel bad at all for her. The lights are just another attempt at fraud.

    • SAS says:

      Absolutely @Steph! I read “Bad Blood” in 2018 and the podcast/docos/TV show have all gotten consistent attention since then, none of it sympathetic.

      The new “reformed, starting a family” identity is 100% to distance herself from Sunny and their work/fraud.

  5. Emmi says:

    Good. Rot in there.

    There is a youtuber who made a very good and enlightening video about having been in jail and giving birth there (she was in there for a drug charge I believe) and it sounded absoutely dehumanizing and horrific. I’m not saying Holmes should endure it but I am saying no woman ever should. The fact that so many women – poor women, Black women, women of color – are forced to and THIS d*ck is not? I’m sure it’s a coincidence.

    She has no true remorse and she got pregnant twice knowing what could happen. I’m convinced she thought nothing and nobody could touch her so she wasn’t concerned.

    • It Really Is You, Not Me says:

      Exactly this! Wealthy Caucasian woman who scammed people and businesses out of hundreds of millions of dollars gets a reprieve while she gives birth but WOC in for a drug charge or robbery of a few hundred dollars does not. Sure, that makes perfect sense (hopefully the sarcasm comes across here).

  6. Happy_Fat_Mama says:

    This is one of those situations that makes me question whether prisons should ever be fully abolished. Like, we need a way to keep EH and others who clearly have no remorse from continuing to do damage, but like…how? Because it is also clear that, however we do it, our justice systems need to stop oppressing so many BIPOC and poor people.

  7. Mina_Esq says:

    I’m so glad this sociopath got a real sentence. I don’t know whether she got pregnant to manipulate the system or because she knew it was her last chance to do so before going away for a long time. In either case, the babies will be better off with governesses then with the daily influence of this selfish monster.

  8. RN says:

    She’s selfish to the very end by timing two pregnancies with the knowledge that she could be serving time. How on brand for her to not give a crap about how her children will handle an imprisoned mother who will be gone for a decade-plus.

  9. Lens says:

    I also read the book, saw the documentary and The Dropout movie. It was fascinating to me just because of her utter chutzpah. The sentence was one more year than what her probation officer recommended and it was fair. I can’t not believe that given her past behavior the pregnancies were not a bid for leniency and it’s a little sick and manipulative. Sunni was charged in way more counts – 12 counts vs 4 ? He should be punished. But no more than her. The whole mess wouldn’t have happened without her pretty blond white girl face being the face of Theranos.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      And the accusations she levelled at Sunni – didn’t she accuse the him of rapesexual assault and threatening coercive behaviour? They had a long term affair that only ended when their con got busted.

    • Ashley L. says:

      She was charged with 11 counts and the jury only found her guilty of 4 of them. Sunny was charged with 12 counts and his jury found him guilty of all of them.

      • Annalise says:

        I just want to say I am UTTERLY unmoved by Holmes’ stupid speech. Her life’s work?? B*tch, you’re like, 30.
        “I gave everything I had to build our company and save our company…” No Liz, YOU didn’t give everything you had, but some of your investors did.
        And not a SINGLE mention of all the LYING and possible JEOPARDIZING of people’s health……. I am however, happy to know how devastated Holmes is by her sentence. 11 years is a long time……

  10. Zazzoo says:

    I loathe her more for getting pregnant while she was awaiting sentencing. The cruelty of doing that to a child combined with the hubris of believing a pretty white women could use a pregnancy to escape harsh sentencing. The worst part is she’s probably not wrong. She’ll probably only serve 4 or 5 years.

    • AppleCart says:

      She has already failed at a new trial. I think appeals will fail also. Since this is about sending a strong message. And 100% agree those babies were strategic to try and create sympathy. Her husband must be such a simp to dump at least 10 million of his family’s wealth on her defense. And the millions more to try and appeal. Maybe the tradeoff was grandbabies for his Parents.

      Federal guidlines is 80% of the sentence. So she would have to serve 9.2 years. If the 11 years stick. Though with her money and connections she will be sent to a Club Fed. And not exactly a hardship.

      • Zazzoo says:

        Thanks for the info on federal sentencing. As for Club Fed, I recall Martha Stewart saying it’s still not great. It’s not frightening like a max security prison but you’re still bunking with dozens of women and given no privacy for even the toilet. That actually sounds like an absolute nightmare.

      • Justwastingtime says:

        Interestingly, her ex company’s insurance paid for her lawyers according to the press. I am sure that she will scam his family in the future though.

  11. Becks1 says:

    The book Bad Blood was a fascinating but disturbing look at what was happening at Theranos. It really was mindblowing to learn about how many people she defrauded and the cult of personality around her. And these weren’t stupid people either!!

    She deserves the 11 years. What she did was really appalling and criminal.

    • lamejudi says:

      I read Bad Blood too, and the viciousness with which she and Balwani went after team members who didn’t fall in line is astonishing. Definitely in line with CO$, Nexium in the dedication to ruining former employees’ (and potential whistleblowers) lives.

      She’s no better than a cult leader or a head of organized crime operaton.

    • BeanieBean says:

      She put a lot of people through hell & for her to characterize her actions as ‘failings’ indicates zero remorse & zero potential for change. I was pleased to see she got 11 years, almost all of what prosecution was asking for. The fine seemed like a joke, but maybe it’s the restitution where she’ll really have to pay back some serious money. Good!

    • Jen says:

      The book is so good. I read it on the heels of already having read a lot of the author’s articles and other long form magazine stories, and it still dropped my jaw, the audacity of her lies and manipulations.

  12. Hey Kay says:

    Scam artist. No sympathy for this person at all.
    Vile, selfish, lying.
    To become pregnant as a ruse to stall her day in court or get sympathy is psychotic behavior.

  13. Snarky says:

    So glad this psychopath got jail time, though she should’ve been convicted of all charges like Sunni was. Notice that she never apologized to the people she endangered with her reckless lies–just the shareholders for not making them enough money and failing the company. What an asshole. I knew from the beginning (as a molecular biologist) that she was full of shit and that some 19-year-old college dropout did not have the technical knowledge to make this a reality. But as others have said, everyone was suckered by her young white blond girl face.

  14. AnneL says:

    We listened to the audio book of “Bad Blood” on a road trip this past summer, then I went ahead and read it. I also watched “The Dropout.” I love Amanda Seyfried and I was just on an Elizabeth Holmes binge, lol.

    I cannot fathom why or how she did what she did. To openly push a faulty product, take millions of dollars knowing the investors were buying a lie, put the health and even lives of people at risk with those utterly unreliable machines, threaten and betray employees and colleagues……and seemingly feel no real shame about it? The woman is missing a chip.

    One of the saddest things about the story, to me, was the rift it caused between George Schultz and his grandson who blew the whistle. How could the man choose to side with and believe Holmes over his own flesh and blood like that? I know he eventually realized and admitted he was wrong, but he never said he was sorry to Tyler. I really felt for the kid.

    I feel for her children. They will be well cared for by their father and his family, I’m sure, but still. They will be haunted by what their mother did and the fact that she spent time in jail for it (as she should). I’m just picturing a “Mommy’s Home From Prison” party and a couple of confused little kids. Ugh.

  15. AmelieOriginal says:

    Her pregnancies are interesting and I think she got pregnant for two reasons. She absolutely deserves to serve time for the fraud she perpetrated, for the employees she terrorized, for everyone she deceived, and for the people who got the false positive tests thinking they had some kind of serious illness. I don’t know how she convinced Billy Evans she was a decent person but I’m guessing at 38, she figured it would be her only chance to be a mom if she was put away since she wasn’t getting any younger so she gambled on the chance she might not get convicted and knowing even if she might, it would be her one chance to have kids.

    I totally believe she also got pregnant hoping the judge/jury would go easy on her (her first pregnancy did delay her trial). She also timed this pregnancy for her sentencing, again because she knew it would be her only opportunity to have another kid and also hoping for a lighter sentence. In the end, all the pregnancies did were delay her trial and her having to report to jail. Sure, it gives her a little more time to be with her kids but she is only delaying the inevitable. She chose to have kids knowing she might not be there to raise them so I can’t feel sorry for her in that regard. I feel sorry for the kids that they have a selfish mom who decided to bring kids into the world knowing they would most likely be deprived of their mom during their most formative years. If she had a burning desire to be a mom, I understand why she chose to have kids when she did but it just shows how thoughtless of a person she is. Anyways, the kids will be okay being raised by their dad and their other relatives (I’m sure there will be some trauma from having their mom in prison but again that’s Elizabeth’s fault), maybe Billy Evans will see the light and find a regular person to build a life with and get sole custody of the kids when she gets out.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      I dunno is his family will help him – didn’t they disown/disinherit him when he married her? Form what I’ve read his family hate her.

  16. Annabelle says:

    A friend was riding her horse on a trail in Woodside, and Elizabeth was out jogging with her dog Wolf. They ran by and Wolf freaked out her horse, which reared and threw her. Elizabeth kept on running and offered no help or concern.

  17. Concern Fae says:

    She is getting less than she deserves. However, like the Martha Stewart case, this is a woman doing jail time in an industry where men are doing incredibly illegal garbage every single day with no consequences.

    We need to have a world where corporate criminals can expect some jail
    time. Fines are a subscription service for being allowed to openly do crimes.

    • Sue E Generis says:

      I’m really upset by this. Why? I think Holmes is a sociopath and deserved to have the book thrown at her. I have zero sympathy. However, it seems when these rich people are forced to pay for their heinous crimes, it’s only the women. The men, prime example TFG and Steve Bannon, never, ever pay. It enrages me.

  18. shanaynay says:

    Excellent! Now, it’s Trumps turn to be locked up!