Elizabeth Holmes Sentenced to More Than 11 Years in Prison

The Theranos founder was convicted on multiple counts of fraud in the high-profile case.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Expertise Solar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects. CNET's "Living off the Grid" series. https://www.cnet.com/feature/home/energy-and-utilities/living-off-the-grid/ Credentials
  • Finalist for the Nesta Tipping Point prize and a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Eric Mack
2 min read
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes arrives at federal court in San Jose, California, wearing a black suit. Her mother, Noel Holmes, is on her left and partner Billy Evans is on her right

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes arrives at federal court in San Jose, California, on Friday with her mother Noel Holmes, left, and partner Billy Evans. 

Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge on Friday sentenced former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes, who was convicted on multiple counts of fraud in January, to 135 months in prison. 

The disgraced founder of the promising blood-testing startup was once compared to luminaries like Steve Jobs. Now she faces 11 years and three months behind bars.  

Judge Edward Davila made the ruling in a San Jose, California, federal district court more than 10 months after Holmes was convicted of defrauding Theranos investors on four counts. The court did not impose any fines as part of the sentence.

"I stand here before you taking responsibility for Theranos. I loved Theranos. It was my life's work," a tearful Holmes said upon taking the stand prior to sentencing on Friday. "I am devastated by my failing. Every day for the past many years I have felt deep pain for what I did, because I failed them."

She had faced a potential maximum sentence of 80 years in prison. 

Holmes and her attorneys had asked for leniency from the judge on account of her being a new mother. The 38-year-old requested less than 18 months in prison, as well a sentence of home confinement and community service. 

Holmes gave birth to a child during her trial in 2021 and is pregnant again. It's unclear whether this will impact how, where or when she'll serve her sentence. 

Over 140 letters from Holmes' family, friends, former employees and supporters, including US Sen. Cory Booker and a retired Navy admiral, were submitted to Davila to make the case that he go easy on Holmes, according to The Wall Street Journal

The portrayal of Holmes as a selfless community servant runs counter to the image sketched by federal prosecutors during the trial of a deceitful executive who would go to great lengths -- even endangering customers -- to hide the shortcomings of Theranos and its technology, which was positioned as a revolutionary advance in medicine. 

Prior to announcing the penalty, Davila explained his sentencing rationale. He said the harm done to Theranos patients would not be a factor because Holmes was acquitted of all patient-related charges. He added that the fact Holmes did not accept responsibility for her crime would count against her. 

Holmes requested a new trial in a Sept. 6 court filing, following a visit to her home by a former Theranos employee during which he reportedly told her partner he regretted testifying against Holmes. Davila ultimately rejected the request as insufficient grounds for a new trial, but did delay sentencing by almost two months. 

Former Theranos executive Sunny Balwani was also convicted of fraud in a separate trial and could still be sentenced by the end of the year. 

Correction, 2:25 p.m. PT: An earlier version of this story miscalculated the conversion from 135 months to years and months. Holmes' sentence will run 11 years, three months.