Elizabeth Holmes: Disgraced Theranos founder delays start of prison sentence by lodging appeal


Disgraced Theranos chief executive Elizabeth Holmes has avoided starting her more than a decade long prison sentence by lodging an 11th hour appeal.

Lawyers for the mother of two, 39, filed an appeal two days before Holmes was due to begin her sentence behind bars on Thursday.

The appeal, filed with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, automatically delays her having to report to begin her detention because she has been free on bail since a jury convicted her on four counts of fraud and conspiracy in January 2022. It is so far unclear when that ruling will come.

She was convicted following a four-month trial following her downfall from a rising Silicon Valley star to an alleged scam artist fleecing investors and endangering the health of patients relying on Theranos’ flawed blood tests.

The tactic deployed by Holmes mirrored a move made last month by her former lover and collegue, Ramesh Balwani, known as Sunny.

He was attempting to avoid a prison reporting date of March 16. After the Ninth Circuit rejected his appeal three weeks later, he had a new reporting date of April 20.

Balwani, 57, is now serving a nearly 13-year prison sentence in a federal prison located in San Pedro, California after being convicted of 12 counts of fraud and conspiracy.

Although they had separate trials, Holmes and Balwani were accused of essentially the same crimes.

Theranos’ blood-testing system was hailed as a revolutionary breakthrough in health care. The claims helped the company become a Silicon Valley favourite that raised nearly $1 billion from investors.

Holmes last appeared in court about a month ago, shortly after giving birth to her second child, in an attempt to persuade US District Judge Edward Davila to allow her to remain free while she appeals her conviction.

Elizabeth Holmes with her partner Billy Evans and mother Noel Holmes (AFP via Getty Images)
Elizabeth Holmes with her partner Billy Evans and mother Noel Holmes (AFP via Getty Images)

Judge Davila, who condemned Holmes for betraying Silicon Valley’s history of innovation when he sentenced her in November, rejected her request.

He had recommended Holmes be jailed at a low-security prison camp in Bryan, Texas, but it has not been publicly disclosed if that is where she has been assigned to serve her sentence.

Holmes had said Theranos had developed a test to diagnose hundreds of diseases with just a few drops of blood. But the tech start-up fell apart in 2018 after it was revealed its technology did not work as advertised.

At its peak, Theranos employed more than 800 people and was valued at $9billion (£8billion), with Holmes having a personal fortune of $4.5 billion (£4 billion), but after the Wall Street Journal raised questions about the reliability of the blood tests, it quickly collapsed.