A federal judge has denied an effort by disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes to delay the start of her prison sentence, set to begin later this month, while she awaits an appeal ruling.
Holmes does not pose a flight risk but she failed to raise a “‘substantial question of law or fact’ that is ‘likely to result in a reversal or an order for a new trial on all counts,'” Edward Davila, the district court judge who presided over her trial, wrote in the decision.
In his order, Judge Edward Davila of the Northern District of California said Holmes does not pose a danger to the community or a flight risk, but he cast doubt on her appeal. Even if Homes won her appeal, he said, it is unlikely to result in a reversal, or an order for a new trial, for all of the counts on which she was found guilty.
Holmes was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison last November, after she was convicted months earlier on multiple charges of defrauding investors while running the failed blood testing startup Theranos.
Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, Holmes’ ex-boyfriend and the former chief operating officer at Theranos, was also found guilty on multiple counts of fraud in a separate trial. He was sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison last December. Balwani’s request to remain out of prison during his appeal was also denied, and he has been ordered by Davila to surrender to prison on April 20.
Once valued at $9 billion, Theranos attracted top investors and retail partners with claims that it had developed technology to test for a wide range of conditions using just a few drops of blood. The company began to unravel after a Wall Street Journal investigation in 2015 reported that Theranos had only ever performed roughly a dozen of the hundreds of tests it offered using its proprietary technology, and with questionable accuracy.
Holmes could still file another appeal of the ruling Davila’s latest ruling, a maneuver that her co-conspirator at Theranos – Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani – successfully used to delay his scheduled March 16 date to begin a nearly 13-year prison sentence. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last week rejected that appeal, and Balwani is now scheduled to report to a Southern California prison on April 20.
Davila has recommended that Holmes serve her sentence in a Byron, Texas, prison. It hasn’t yet been publicly confirmed if that will be the facility where she reports.
Unless she can find a way to stay free, Holmes will be separated from the two children she had leading up to the trial and after her conviction.
Her first child, a boy, was born shortly before her trial began in September 2021. The youngest child, whose gender hasn’t been disclosed in court documents, was born at some point after her November sentencing. She conceived both with her current partner, William “Billy” Evans, who she met after breaking up with Balwani in the midst of Theranos’ scandalous downfall.
The denial of Holmes’ request to remain free is the latest twist in a long-running saga that has already been the subject of an acclaimed HBO documentary and an award-winning Hulu TV series.
Although they had separate trials, Holmes and Balwani were accused of essentially the same crimes centered on a ruse touting Theranos’ blood-testing system as a breakthrough in health care. The claims helped the company become a Silicon Valley sensation that raised nearly $1 billion from investors and at one point anointed Holmes with a $4.5 billion fortune, based on her 50% stake in Theranos.
Holmes also parlayed the buzz surrounding Theranos to speaking engagements on the same stage as former President Bill Clinton and glowing cover stories in business publication that likened her to tech visionaries such as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
But Theranos’ technology never came close to working like Holmes and Balwani boasted, resulting in the company’s scandalous collapse and a criminal case that shined a bright light on Silicon Valley greed and hubris.
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