Disgraced former Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asked a judge to sentence her to a maximum of 18 months in prison, but preferably home confinement, after she was found guilty earlier this year on three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud over her blood testing company.
In a sentencing memo filed on Thursday, Holmes’ lawyers said 130 people, including friends, family and former Theranos investors, board members and employees, submitted letters of support for her.
Holmes, 38, is scheduled to be sentenced on November 18, and faces up to 20 years in prison for each count, though it’s likely they would be served concurrently.
Holmes’ lawyers pointed out she started the health tech company—which was accused of claiming its machines could perform tests Holmes and other executives knew it could not—when she was only 19, and “for the rest of her life, she and her family will be punished.”
Holmes’ former business partner Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, whom she also had a relationship with, was found guilty in July of 12 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
On Monday, a judge denied Holmes’ request for a new trial.
Holmes was hailed as a Silicon Valley whiz kid when she dropped out of Stanford as a teenager to start Theranos. The company claimed its proprietary blood testing technology could perform hundreds of tests using only a single drop, and investors included Rupert Murdoch and Henry Kissinger. Holmes made the covers of prominent magazines, including Forbes, and even scored a deal to have Theranos’ testing sites at Walgreens, until the company was exposed as a fraud in a series from the Wall Street Journal. Both Holmes and Balwani were charged in 2018, but were tried separately. During her three-month-long trial last year, Holmes’ lawyers she was not trying to defraud patients and investors, but made mistakes as a leader. Notably, she was only found guilty on counts relating to defrauding investors, and was found not guilty on counts relating to patients and doctors, and the jury deadlocked on other counts relating to specific wire transfers. Balwani and Holmes began a relationship before he joined Theranos, working as its president and COO, and Holmes has claimed he abused her, which Balwani has denied. Balwani, 57, was found guilty on all 12 counts he was charged with, and also faces 20 years in prison.
Elizabeth Holmes Found Guilty On Wire Fraud Charges (Forbes)
Elizabeth Holmes’ Business Partner Sunny Balwani Found Guilty Of Fraud In Theranos Case (Forbes)