Theranos ex-CEO Elizabeth Holmes to be sentenced, faces years in prison


New York: Elizabeth Holmes’s punishment for her role in the collapse of Theranos Inc. will finally be decided, closing a key chapter in one of the biggest scandals in Silicon Valley history.

Ten months after a jury found the 38-year-old former chief executive officer guilty, her fate for defrauding investors out of millions in the blood-testing startup now lies with US District Judge Edward Davila, who has overseen the case since 2018.

Holmes was convicted on four counts in January for persuading investors over 15 years that she had developed a revolutionary medical device before the company flamed out after an investigation by The Wall Street Journal.

US federal prosecutors are seeking a 15-year jail term for Holmes and want her to pay $800 million in restitution to investors that included the Walton family of Walmart, the Walgreens chain of pharmacies and media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Holmes stands out among white-collar criminals because relatively few of them are women convicted of such serious fraud, legal experts say. Her sentence could be used to set an example in the startup world about the consequences of fraudulent behavior. In a twist, the judge may consider the sentence in light of Holmes’s expecting her second child.

Balancing all the competing factors to arrive at a sentence is “more art than science,” said Amanda Kramer, a criminal defense lawyer.

Holmes, convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to sentencing guidelines. US prosecutors have asked for 15 years of imprisonment, while her lawyers say she should get home confinement, or 18 months in prison at most. She’s likely to appeal her conviction.

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