Time's up for Elizabeth Holmes
After years of high-profile court proceedings, Elizabeth Holmes could actually be headed to prison. For real this time.
The former Theranos founder and CEO was found guilty of defrauding investors last January, but has consistently delayed and appealed her sentencing to remain out of incarceration. Though the infamous biotech entrepreneur is still appealing her 11-year sentence, a panel of Ninth Circuit judges ruled that Holmes' legal team has not raised enough of a "substantial question" to keep her out of prison. So, unless Holmes has even more tricks up her sleeve, she will soon begin serving her prison sentence, five years after Theranos dissolved. Holmes had previously been ordered to report to prison on April 27. Her former boyfriend and Theranos COO Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, who was found guilty of both defrauding investors and patients, reported to prison last month.
But the bad news keeps coming for Holmes and Balwani. The two former Theranos execs have been ordered to pay $452 million in restitution to victims of their fraud, for which they are jointly liable.
Image Credits: United States District Court, Northern District of California (opens in a new window)
Business mogul Rupert Murdoch will get the largest payout of $125 million. Walgreens and Safeway, which struck deals with Theranos to use its technology in their stores, will get $40 million and $14.5 million, respectively. The DeVos family's firm, RDV Corp, will get a $100 million payout. Among several other investors getting restitution are Black Diamond Ventures, Peer Ventures Group, PFM Funds and others.
Just last week, The New York Times published a controversial long-form profile of Holmes, which portrays her through perhaps too sympathetic a lens: now known as "Liz," the convicted fraudster is depicted as a loving mother, a volunteer for a rape crisis hotline and a survivor of alleged abuse from Balwani, her former partner. These aspects of her identity are seemingly true. But what's also true is that Holmes ran a company that collected investments at a $10 billion valuation for tech that didn't actually exist.
These actions had real consequences for ordinary, innocent people. In one case, a mother with a history of miscarriages was wrongly informed that she wouldn't be able to give birth to her baby. Another patient, Erin Tompkins, used Theranos' blood testing to save money, got flagged as HIV-positive, and had to wait three months until she could afford a second blood test. She did not actually have HIV. Another patient, Mehrl Ellsworth, was given a false cancer diagnosis after using Theranos tests.
Ellsworth and Tompkins testified in the cases against both Balwani and Holmes. But the jury in Balwani's case found him guilty of defrauding patients and investors, while Holmes was only convicted of defrauding investors.
Holmes is now expected to report to prison by May 30.
Update, 5/17/23, 3:30 PM ET with the date of Holmes' report to prison.