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In 2014, when she was 30, Elizabeth Holmes was on top of the world. She dropped out of Stanford University and started a company that is now worth $9 billion and is said to have changed how diseases are diagnosed.
Theranos said that its Edison test could quickly find conditions like cancer and diabetes with just a few drops of blood and no need for needles. On the board were essential people like Henry Kissinger and General James Mattis.
But by 2015, Holmes’ story was falling apart, and it only took a year for the truth to come out. After that, she talked a lot about technology that didn’t work at all, and by 2018, the company she started had gone out of business.
In January, a jury in California found her guilty of four counts of fraud, each of which can get her up to 20 years in prison.
The jury found her not guilty on four other charges, and they couldn’t decide on three others. Holmes pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him and asked for a new trial, but his requests were turned down.
The court sentenced her to 11 years and 3 months on Friday.
During the trial, Holmes said that her ex-boyfriend and business partner, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, had hurt her emotionally and sexually. She said that the supposed crimes messed up her mind at the time.
Balwani, who was 56 years old, was charged with the same type of fraud and was found guilty in July. He will be sentenced next month. He had said that the claims were “ludicrous.”
Starts with a lot of pressure
Elizabeth Holmes grew up in a family with plenty of money in Washington, DC. People who knew her said she was polite but quiet as a child.
Both of Holmes’s parents worked as government workers on Capitol Hill for most of their lives. But, he told the BBC, “they were very concerned with status” and “lived for connections.” For example, her great-great-grandfather founded Fleischmann’s Yeast. He said that changed the bread business in America, and the family was very aware of its history.
Elizabeth wrote a letter to her father when she was nine years old. She said she wanted to learn how to do something new that people didn’t know possible.
In 2002, she went to Stanford to study chemical engineering. Again, she came up with a patch that could check for infections and give antibiotics when needed.
At 18, she showed a stubbornness that would stay with her and drive the business she started the following year.
The Meteoric rise of Elizabeth Holmes
A few months later, Elizabeth Holmes quit Stanford at 19 and started Theranos. This time, he devised a revolutionary way to test blood with a finger prick.
Powerful people became interested and put money in without seeing audited financial statements.
Some of her supporters were US Treasury Secretary George Schultz, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and the Waltons, the wealthiest family in the US. The help and the way she acted gave her more credibility.
It started to fall apart in 2015 when a “whistleblower” spoke up about problems with the Edison, the company’s best-known testing device.
As lawsuits piled up, Holmes’ partners cut ties with him, and in 2016, US officials told him he couldn’t run a blood-testing service for two years.
In 2018, Theranos went out of business.
In March that year, Holmes paid $700 million to settle civil charges from financial regulators that she had lied to investors to get their money.
But three months later, authorities arrested Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani on charges of wire fraud and plotting to commit wire fraud.
Prosecutors said she lied to patients about the tests and lied to investors about how well the company was doing.
As the trial for the Theranos scandal got closer, people said it was amazing how much Holmes stuck to her original story, and people who knew her said they didn’t think she had changed.
Holmes’s lawyers said she shouldn’t go to jail because she wasn’t a threat to society. Instead, they spoke up for her in front of more than 130 people, including Senator Cory Booker.
But prosecutors said her ambition blinded her, which put people in danger.