Elizabeth Holmes Sentenced to 11.25 Years for Theranos Fraud

The amount of restitution Elizabeth Holmes will have to pay will be determined in a separate hearing.

Amanda Pedersen

November 18, 2022

3 Min Read
Elizabeth Holmes leaving a federal courthouse in San Jose, CA on Jan. 3, 2022, the day she was convicted on four charges of
Image courtesy of Neal Waters / ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

It seems fitting that John Carreyrou was first in line outside the courthouse in San Jose, CA the day Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced to 11.25 years in prison.

Carreyrou, a former Wall Street Journal reporter best known for his investigative series on Theranos and his best-selling book, "Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup," arrived at the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building and U.S. Court at 2:30 a.m. PST. Sentencing was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. PST.

Two hours into the sentencing hearing, NBC reporter Scott Budman Tweeted that the courtroom was "packed to the gills" and that Holmes had not shown any emotion. She looked straight ahead, with family and friends seated behind her, as attorneys from both sides took turns trying to sway the judge.

unanimous jury convicted Holmes on Jan. 3 on four counts of investor fraud and conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Edward Davila sentenced her Friday to 11.25 years in prison (the low end of the sentencing guide range of 11.25 years to 14 years) plus three years of supervised release. The judge set a surrender date for April 27.

Prior to the sentencing, Davila reviewed over 130 letters supporting leniency for Holmes. Sen. Cory Booker is reportedly among those letter writers. The sentencing follows a four-month trial best described as a media circus, the denial of multiple requests for a new trial, and an unprecedented situation involving a Theranos whistleblower who testified against Holmes. Holmes also appears to be roughly seven months pregnant with her second child.

Friday's sentencing also marks the end of a seven-year corporate scandal so full of intrigue it inspired a best-selling book, an award-winning podcast, an HBO documentary, and a Hulu series. But we still have one more chapter to go before we officially close the book on the failed blood-testing unicorn known as Theranos. That final chapter, or perhaps epilogue, will entail the sentencing of Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani.

Balwani, Holmes' former romantic partner who also served as chief operating officer at Theranos, was convicted in July of all 12 criminal charges against him. The verdict against Balwani offered a stark contrast to the four charges that Holmes was convicted of in January.

Highlights of Elizabeth Holmes' sentencing hearing

  • Holmes' counsel argued the investor loss calculation should be in the $40 million to $48 million range. Prosecutors argued the investor loss should be $804 million. Judge Davila ruled there were 10 investor victims of Holmes’ fraud who lost a total of $385 million.

  • Davila said decided to set a future hearing on Elizabeth Holmes’ restitution.

  • The sentencing hearing lasted about four hours, with just one 15-minute break.

  • Attorneys rehashed many of the same arguments made at trial over whether Holmes ever actually profited from Theranos, because she never cashed in her shares, Law360 senior reporter Dorothy Atkins Tweeted.

  • Davila noted that Theranos was a private company and that none of the investors are likely to recover a return on their investments. He added that estimating the value of shares given the fraud “is challenging," Atkins Tweeted.

  • Davila said Elizabeth Holmes was the leader at Theranos, but not necessarily the leader of the criminal acts, according to Tweets from both Atkins and Budman.

  • Davila said the sentencing guideline range is between 135 months (11.25 years) and 168 months (14 years) for Holmes' fraud.

  • Elizabeth Holmes cried on the stand saying that she takes responsibility for Theranos, her life's work, Budman Tweeted. She also said she regrets her failings with every cell of her body, Atkins Tweeted.

  • Atkins Tweeted after the sentencing was delivered that Elizabeth Holmes was crying and surrounded by friends and family who were hugging her. One guy in the gallery took a photo in court and a man who was with Holmes confronted him and told him to delete the photo. The clerk got involved and a U.S. marshall was called to handle the dispute.

About the Author(s)

Amanda Pedersen

Amanda Pedersen is a veteran journalist and award-winning columnist with a passion for helping medical device professionals connect the dots between the medtech news of the day and the bigger picture. She has been covering the medtech industry since 2006.

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