American Billionaire, Holmes Sentenced To Serve More Than 11 Years In Prison For Theranos Scam
A federal judge on Friday sentenced disgraced Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes to more than 11 years in prison for duping investors in the failed startup that promised to revolutionize blood testing but instead made her a symbol of Silicon Valley’s culture of audacious self-promotion.
The sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Edward Davila was shorter than the 15-year penalty requested by federal prosecutors but far tougher than the leniency her legal team sought for the mother of a year-old son with another child on the way.
Holmes, who was CEO throughout the company’s turbulent 15-year history, was convicted in January in the scheme, which revolved around the company’s claims to have developed a medical device that could detect a multitude of diseases and conditions from a few drops of blood. But the technology never worked.
The sentencing in the same San Jose, California, courtroom where Holmes was convicted on four counts of investor fraud and conspiracy in January marks another climactic moment in a saga that has been dissected in an HBO documentary and an award-winning Hulu series about her meteoric rise and mortifying downfall.
Holmes, 38, faced a maximum of 20 years, but her legal team asked the judge for a sentence of no more than 18 months, preferably served in home confinement.
Her lawyers argued that Holmes deserved more lenient treatment as a well-meaning entrepreneur who is now a devoted mother with another child on the way. Their arguments were supported by more than 130 letters submitted by family, friends and former colleagues praising Holmes.
Prosecutors also wanted Holmes to pay $804 million in restitution. The amount covers most of the nearly $1 billion that Holmes raised from a list of sophisticated investors that included software magnate Larry Ellison, media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the Walton family behind Walmart.
While wooing investors, Holmes leveraged a high-powered Theranos board that included former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who testified against her during her trial, and two former secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and the late George Shultz, whose son submitted a statement blasting Holmes for concocting a scheme that played Shultz “for the fool.”