Elizabeth Holmes due to start prison sentence today
After years of legal wrangling, former Theranos chief executive Elizabeth Holmes is due to report later today at a federal prison, where she will start serving an 11-year sentence for conspiracy and wire fraud.
Holmes has finally exhausted a string of attempts to stay out of prison while she appeals against the conviction handed down last November, and has been ordered to present herself at the minimum security, all-female prison in Bryan, Texas, around 100 miles from Houston.
An appeals court denied the 39-year-old mother of two’s request to stay free last month, saying that Holmes had not presented any substantial evidence that her conviction is likely to be overturned on appeal. She had been due to turn herself in on 27th April.
While at the prison, Holmes will need to work alongside other inmates, with typical pay rates for this work in the cents per hour range. A BBC report suggests that half of even that small amount will be taken to reimburse victims, while her assets are in the process of being seized, and all her future earnings will also go in part towards restitution of those who lost money backing Theranos.
When convicted, Holmes was ordered to repay a massive $452 million to investors, so the chances of those affected by her crimes getting restitution are practically nil. She will also undergo three years of supervised release after her sentence ends.
The college dropout founded Theranos in 2003 when she was 19, and in the following years was feted as the ‘next Steve Jobs’, amid claims that the biotech’s technology could diagnose a host of diseases with just a few drops of blood taken with a finger prick, rather than a larger sample drawn from a patient’s vein. At its peak, the company was valued at more than $9 billion.
Everything started to unravel, however, when a Wall Street Journal investigation in 2015 discovered that most of the tests Theranos claimed to perform on its analyser were actually being performed by standard blood-testing machines.
Theranos raised almost $1 billion from investors before the company, and its claims, were eventually exposed as a sham. The company folded in 2018.
Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, the former business and romantic partner of Holmes, was sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison last December and started his sentence in California last month.