For more than a decade, Elizabeth Holmes has told the world a hideous, bloody lie.
She claimed to have invented a medical miracle.
A machine that could diagnose countless diseases with a tiny drop of blood.
Her scam deceived many wealthy investors and made her not only the darling of Silicon Valley but also a billionaire.
However, not anymore.
A California court yesterday sentenced Holmes to 11 years in prison for fraud.
The sentence imposed by US District Judge Edward Davila was shorter than the 15-year sentence required by federal prosecutors but far harsher than the leniency her legal team was asking for the mother of a one-year-old son with another child on the way.
The 38-year-old Holmes faced a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Her legal team asked for no more than 18 months, preferably in domestic confinement.
“This is a very serious sentence,” said Rachel Fiset, a defense attorney who has also been involved in public health cases.
Holmes, who was CEO during the company’s turbulent 15-year history, was convicted in January over the scheme, which revolved around the company’s claims of developing a medical device that could diagnose a variety of diseases and conditions using a few drops of blood could recognize.
But the technology never worked, and the claims were false.
Theranos was undone “by misrepresentation, hubris and outright lies,” the judge said.
“This case is so disturbing on so many levels,” Davila said.
“What prompted Mrs Holmes to make the decisions she did? Was there a loss of moral compass?”
Holmes’ meteoric rise to fame once landed her on the covers of business magazines, hailing her as the next Steve Jobs.
And their deception was convincing enough to attract a list of sophisticated investors including software magnate Larry Ellison, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and the Walton family behind Walmart.
She sobbed as she told the judge she took responsibility for her actions.
“I regret my failure with every cell in my body,” said Holmes.
She promised Davila that she would devote the rest of her life to trying to help others.
Holmes’ attorney Kevin Downey said he would appeal the verdict.
Holmes and her family exited the courthouse through a side entrance, avoiding reporters and photographers.
Before presenting the award, Davila reflected on Silicon Valley’s transformation from an agricultural hub populated by farmers and ranchers to a “melting pot of innovation” full of bright-eyed entrepreneurs with dreams of changing the world.
Recalling technology pioneer Hewlett-Packard’s humble beginnings in a small garage in Palo Alto — the same city where Theranos was based — he spoke wistfully of “honest, hard work.”
“That, I hope, will be the legacy and continuation of this valley,” the judge said.
Amanda Kramer, a former federal prosecutor-turned-defense attorney, described the ruling as “the equivalent of a flashing neon sign” that “is a reminder that the long-term consequences of fraud far outweigh any short-term gains.”
The conviction, in the same San Jose courtroom where Holmes was convicted on four counts of investor fraud and conspiracy, marked another high point in a saga that has been dissected into an HBO documentary and an award-winning Hulu series.
Her attorneys argued that Holmes was a well-meaning entrepreneur who is now a devoted mother.
Her views were supported by more than 130 letters submitted by family, friends and former colleagues praising Holmes.
Davila suggests that the letters might have taken a different tone if the authors had seen and heard all of the evidence presented to the jury.
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