Judge Gives Elizabeth Holmes 11 Years for Theranos Fraud

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A federal judge on Friday handed disgraced biotech exec Elizabeth Holmes a prison sentence of more than 11 years for defrauding her investors. Prosecutors had sought a sentence of 15 years after the 38-year-old was convicted earlier this year of misleading investors in her now-defunct Theranos blood-testing company. She had promised a revolution in how simple blood tests could be used to diagnose illness, but the tech never worked, per NPR. US District Judge Ed Davila imposed the 135-month sentence, disregarding the defense team’s request that Holmes serve 18 months of house arrest. A probation report had recommended a nine-year prison term, notes the AP. The judge said restitution will be decided later, per CNN. Holmes is to turn herself in on April 27, 2023.

  • The judge’s rationale: Before announcing the sentence, Davila explained a couple of factors that influenced his decision, per the Wall Street Journal. Holmes’ refusal to accept responsibility for the crime counts against her, he said. Because she was cleared of patient-related charges at trial, Davila said he wouldn’t add time to the prison term for the harm the company did to patients.
  • She’s expecting: More than 100 supporters wrote letters to the judge on Holmes’ behalf requesting a lenient sentence, per the New York Times. “If you are to know Liz, it is to know that she is honest, humble, selfless, and kind beyond what most people have ever experienced,” wrote partner Billy Evans. “Please let her be free.” Holmes is pregnant with her second child with Evans, though her due date is not publicly known.
  • A senator: In his own letter, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker praised Holmes’ “determination to make a difference.”
  • A defense: “Failures are a part of the game in Silicon Valley,” wrote venture capitalist Alex Moore in his letter, per the Wall Street Journal. “Having large dreams, raising money, hiring people, these are the building blocks of what we do and actually 90% of the time everything goes to nothing.”
  • Ex-partner: Sonny Balwani, Holmes’ former business and romantic partner, also was convicted of fraud and will be sentenced next month.

(Read more Elizabeth Holmes stories.)

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