Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, a fraudulent health technology company, was sentenced to 11.25 years in prison on Friday. The sentence will be followed by 3 years of supervised release. Holmes faces the sentence for deceiving investors and endangering patients as she peddled fraudulent blood-testing technology.
Holmes’ sentence comes after being convicted on four counts of investor fraud and conspiracy in January. Holmes’ company, Theranos, purported itself to be creating revolutionary technology that could scan for hundreds of diseases with just a few drops of blood. But it was all a ruse.
Holmes had founded the company in 2003, beginning her quest to raise millions of dollars in funding for the idea. By the end of 2010, Holmes reportedly raised $92 million in venture capital.
After years of selling promises—putting together what was referred to as “the most illustrious board in U.S. corporate history”—Holmes took her product public. Partnering with Walgreens, Holmes began piloting the needles said to be able to test for afflictions including diabetes and HIV.
By 2014, Theranos was valued at $9 billion, having raised more than a whopping $400 million in venture capital. Her board included names such as former Defense Secretary James Mattis, and two former secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and the late George Shultz.
And then came the bombshells. The Wall Street Journal revealed Theranos’ devices were giving inaccurate testing results, and that the company was using already-available technologies manufactured by other companies for its supposedly revolutionary testing. Thereafter, the dominoes fell.
In 2016, the government found one of Theranos’ labs to have faulty procedures and equipment—banning Holmes from operating a blood-testing service for two years. In 2017, Arizona filed suit against Theranos for selling over one million blood tests to Arizonans while misrepresenting information about them. In 2018, the SEC charged Holmes and the company’s former president Ramesh Balwani with fraud for taking over $700 million from investors while selling their faulty product.
Holmes’ lawyer had tried arguing for leniency, painting her client as a well-meaning entrepreneur and mother. Her efforts were bolstered by 130 letters submitted by family, friends, and colleagues—and even Senator Cory Booker.