Elizabeth Holmes, Former CEO Who Duped Investors and Inspired ‘The Dropout,’ Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison

Elizabeth Holmes (Credit: YouTube/Computer History Museum)

Elizabeth Holmes, a biotechnology entrepreneur who defrauded investors out of more than $140 million and became the subject of podcast and TV projects, was sentenced on Friday to 11 years in prison.

A federal judge in San Jose, California, handed down the sentence following Holmes’ conviction in January for scamming investors and misleading the public about her now-defunct blood testing company, Theranos.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila gave Holmes a shorter sentence than the 15 years requested by federal prosecutors, according to the Associated Press. Still, the sentence was much longer than the 18 months of house arrest Holmes’ lawyers requested for the currently pregnant mother of a one-year-old son.

She was ordered to begin serving her sentence on April 27.

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Holmes, 38, was once a superstar Silicon Valley entrepreneur. In 2003, she launched and was the chief executive officer of Theranos. The company claimed to have revolutionized blood testing by developing a medical device that could detect hundreds of diseases with just a few drops of blood, such as from a finger prick.

She was embraced for her innovation and Theranos was valued at $9 billion.

In a 2014 interview with the Computer History Museum, Holmes said the Theranos technology would make blood tests more “accessible” and “affordable.”

“All too often, people we love are lost because you find out too late in the disease progression process to be able to do anything about it,” she said. “Making laboratory testing more accessible is a way to help change that.”

In 2015, Forbes named her the youngest self-made female billionaire in America. The Stanford University dropout was also featured in a Fortune magazine cover story, and was named one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People” of 2015.

But the praise didn’t last long. An October 2015 exposé in the Wall Street Journal said Theranos had “struggled” with its technology, and raised questions about the effectiveness of its testing claims.

Following a federal investigation, Holmes was convicted of four counts of investor fraud and conspiracy. A jury acquitted her of four other counts of harming patients who used Theranos’ blood-testing device.

Holmes was the subject of Emmy Award-winning Hulu miniseries The Dropout.

The series starred Amanda Seyfried, Naveen Andrews, Michel Gill, Elizabeth Marvel, and William H. Macy. It premiered on March 3, 2022 and received praise from critics for the cast performances. Based on an ABC Audio podcast by the same name, the drama explored Holmes’ middle class upbringing, her extreme ambition, and the motivations for her deception and lies. Seyfried won a Primetime Emmy in September for her portrayal of Holmes.