Elizabeth Holmes, founder of a blood-testing start-up, Theranos Inc., who was once hailed as the youngest self-made billionaire and an emblem of Silicon Valley entrepreneurship is very likely to spend the next few years at a minimum-security prison.
The 37-year-old Stanford University dropout was found guilty of massive fraud at the startup she founded and she faces as much as 20 years.
Prosecutors spent 11 weeks presenting over two dozen witnesses, as they painstakingly laid out their argument that Holmes knew her technology fell short, and deliberately misled investors and patients.
Holmes was a shining star in Silicon Valley. By the end of 2010, she had raised a whopping $92 million in venture capital for Theranos, which she pledged was developing machines that could run a gamut of diagnostic tests on a few drops of blood.
Theranos hype kicked up another gear in 2014 and in the span of just over a year, a turtleneck-wearing Holmes appeared on the covers of Fortune, Forbes, Inc. and T: The New York Times Style Magazine.
Forbes gave her a $4.5 billion net worth in 2014, which was based on her half ownership of Theranos, and noted: “Youngest woman on Forbes 400; Youngest woman self-made billionaire.”
Legal experts say that Holmes may serve as little as three years at one of the federal less restrictive facilities for non-violent white criminals. She is likely to appeal her conviction and could spend even less time incarcerated.
The startup founder may be sent to a women’s prison camp in California where high profile criminals like actress Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin served sentences for their roles in a college admission cheating scandal or she could end up in a prison at Victorville on the southern part of the state.
Prison consultants believe that the former self-made billionaire would have some notoriety because of her crime but she won’t have a target on her back. However comfortable the prison may seem, it would be a shock for the former self-made billionaire as the recent surge in Covid-19 cases, forced U.S. prisons to cut back on family visits and communal activities, including bagged food instead of hot meals served in dining halls, and Holmes just had a baby with her partner.
However, she has no criminal record and she is likely to get less than three years and some of her sentences could be converted into probation or home confinement and the district judge could take into consideration that she is a new mother and is remorseful of her crime.