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After numerous high-profile court proceedings, it appears that Elizabeth Holmes may finally be facing imprisonment. The former founder and CEO of Theranos was found guilty of defrauding investors in January, and despite her efforts to delay and appeal her sentencing, her legal team has not presented enough substantial questions to prevent her from going to prison, as ruled by a panel of Ninth Circuit judges. Barring any unforeseen legal maneuvers, Holmes will soon commence her prison sentence, marking a significant turning point five years after the dissolution of Theranos. Notably, Holmes’ former boyfriend and Theranos COO, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who was also found guilty of defrauding both investors and patients, has already begun serving his prison term after reporting last month.
However, the troubles for Holmes and Balwani do not end with their impending incarceration. The two former Theranos executives have been ordered to pay a staggering sum of $452 million in restitution to the victims of their fraudulent actions, holding joint liability for the damages caused. Among the recipients of restitution, business magnate Rupert Murdoch is set to receive the largest payout of $125 million. Walgreens and Safeway, which had entered agreements with Theranos to utilize its technology in their stores, will receive $40 million and $14.5 million, respectively. The DeVos family’s firm, RDV Corp, will be granted a $100 million payout, while other investors, including Black Diamond Ventures, Peer Ventures Group, and PFM Funds, will also receive restitution.
Recently, the New York Times published a controversial long-form profile of Holmes, portraying her in what some argue is an overly sympathetic light. The article, which refers to her as “Liz,” presents the convicted fraudster as a caring mother, a volunteer for a rape crisis hotline, and a survivor of alleged abuse by Balwani, her former partner. While these aspects of Holmes’ identity may be true, it is equally true that she spearheaded a company that attracted investments at a staggering $10 billion valuation, based on technology that did not actually exist.
The consequences of Holmes’ actions had a profound impact on innocent individuals. For instance, one mother with a history of miscarriages was falsely informed that she would be unable to give birth to her baby. Another patient, Erin Tompkins, relied on Theranos’ blood testing to save money, only to be wrongly flagged as HIV-positive, forcing her to wait three months until she could afford a second blood test. In reality, she did not have HIV. Similarly, Mehrl Ellsworth received a false cancer diagnosis after utilizing Theranos’ tests.
Both Ellsworth and Tompkins testified during the trials of Balwani and Holmes. However, while Balwani was found guilty of defrauding patients and investors, Holmes was only convicted of defrauding investors. This discrepancy in the jury’s verdict underscores the severe consequences faced by innocent victims and the gravity of Holmes’ actions.
As the future unfolds, Holmes finds herself facing a grim outlook. However, the specific date for her self-surrender to begin her prison sentence has yet to be determined, leaving a lingering uncertainty in her immediate future.