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Illustration of a drop of blood held in palms facing upward with logos of money and technology in the background, representing the blood-testing technology of Theranos situated in the well-financed biotechnology sector.
Investors and the public were deceived into believing that Theranos’ technology could revolutionize blood tests.
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Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison

Holmes found guilty of defrauding investors, with implications for the tech industry

Photo portrait of Zahraa Chorghay
Zahraa Chorghay, PhD
Photo portrait of Zahraa Chorghay

Zahraa Chorghay, PhD, specialized in neuroscience during her undergraduate (University of Toronto) and doctoral studies (McGill University). She continues to explore her passion for neuroscience and for making science accessible and inclusive.

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Published:Nov 24, 2022
|1 min read
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For the first time, a CEO of a major tech firm has been criminally prosecuted and sentenced to prison after a long trial that has captured media attention. On November 18, Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes was found guilty of defrauding investors of several hundreds of millions of dollars. She had convinced investors and the public that Theranos’s technology could revolutionize blood tests, though she knew it could not

Although Theranos is thought to have had a nearly $1 billion investment, Holmes's sentencing reflected the loss of only $121 million from 10 major investors. Since federal sentencing guidelines for fraud cases place the most emphasis on the amount of money lost, Holmes received 11 years of prison time followed by three years of supervision. She will likely serve her time at Federal Prison Camp at Bryan, Texas, which is a minimum-security prison for female inmates that is thought to have better conditions compared to other prisons.

The case sets an important precedent with implications for the tech industry, where embellishment is often used to attract investments but failure to deliver promises can have dire financial consequences. According to their court filing, the prosecutors pushed for Holmes’s imprisonment as a deterrent against fraud to “rebuild the trust investors must have when funding innovation." In the meantime, Theranos COO Ramesh Balwani is awaiting sentencing and could face up to 20 years in prison.