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Disgraced Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes to Begin Prison Sentence as Appeals Denied


Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of the blood-testing startup Theranos, will begin her 11-year prison sentence on April 27 after a federal judge denied her request to remain free while she appeals her conviction. Holmes was convicted on four counts of fraud and conspiracy in January 2022, and her appeal is unlikely to result in a reversal of the verdict or a new trial, according to US district court judge Edward Davila.

While Davila acknowledged that Holmes is “not likely to flee or pose a danger” to the public, he rejected her request to remain free post-conviction, citing the lack of substantial issues that merit a new trial. Holmes’s attorneys have raised evidentiary and procedural issues with the trial in their appeal to the federal ninth circuit court of appeals.

Holmes’s former business and romantic partner, Sunny Balwani, will also report to prison this month after the ninth circuit rejected his request to remain free pending an appeal. Balwani was convicted on 12 counts of fraud and conspiracy and sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.

Holmes’s incarceration will mark an extraordinary fall from grace for the one-time Silicon Valley magnate. A college dropout, Holmes was hailed as a visionary for her promise to revolutionize blood-testing with technology that could carry out hundreds of tests on a single drop of blood. The startup attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and soared to a $9bn valuation before critical reporting by the Wall Street Journal revealed that the underlying technology did not work.

Holmes and Balwani were accused of carrying out a blood-testing hoax by claiming that their technology was capable of producing accurate and reliable results. The trial revealed that the pair had misled investors, patients, and doctors about the efficacy of their technology, which put the health and safety of patients at risk.

The sentencing of Holmes and Balwani sends a strong message to the tech industry that unethical behavior and fraud will not be tolerated. It also highlights the need for greater accountability and transparency in the startup world, where hype and optimism can often overshadow reality.

The Theranos scandal has had far-reaching implications for the industry, leading to greater scrutiny of startups and their claims. It has also prompted investors and regulators to pay closer attention to the technology underlying startups and to demand more rigorous testing and validation.

While the fall of Theranos may be a cautionary tale for the industry, it also serves as a reminder that innovation and progress can only be achieved through ethical and responsible behavior. As the tech industry continues to evolve and push the boundaries of what is possible, it must also remain vigilant in ensuring that the products and services it creates are safe, reliable, and trustworthy.

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