Washington, Nov 18 (EFE).- Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced Friday to 11 years and three months in prison for misleading investors about the efficacy of the company’s “revolutionary” approach to blood testing as well as its business prospects.
Holmes, 38, was convicted in January of four counts of wire fraud.
The one-time rising star of Silicon Valley faced a maximum of 20 years behind bars and prosecutors had asked that she be sent to prison for 15 years and ordered to pay $804 million in restitution to more than two-dozen investors.
The defense attorneys urged US District Judge Edward J. Davila to limit the penalty to 18 months and allow Holmes, who is pregnant with her second child, to serve the sentence under house arrest.
Holmes was joined in the courtroom in San Jose, California, by a large group of friends and family that included her parents and partner.
“I am devastated by my failings,” she said, reading a statement before Davila pronounced sentence. “I have felt deep pain for what people went through because I failed them.”
She apologized to Theranos’ former employees, investors and clients.
One of her lawyers, Kevin Downey, argued that Holmes’ actions had not been driven by greed, as attested by her failure to cash out at the height of Theranos’ stock market valuation – $10 billion – and splurge of luxuries such as yachts and planes.
“We have a conviction for a crime where the defendant’s motive was to build technology,” he said.
Prosecutor Jeffrey Schenk countered that Holmes benefited in other ways from her fraud, enjoying fame and adulation that saw her face appear on magazine covers and earned her an invitation to the White House.
The then-19-year-old Holmes dropped out of Stanford University in 2003 to devote herself full-time to building Theranos.
Within a decade, Holmes had convinced numerous prominent people, including former Secretary of State George Shultz, to invest in Theranos on the strength of her claim to have developed technology to allow for automated rapid on-site blood tests using small amounts of blood.
Large corporations former partnerships with Theranos and at 31, Holmes had a net worth of $4.5 billion and was being compared with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
But in late 2015, The Wall Street Journal published a series of stories demolishing Theranos’ claims, which led in 2018 to the dissolution of the company and indictments of Holmes and business partner Ramesh Balwani, who was convicted in July in a separate trial. EFE ssa/dr