Prosecutors have requested 15 years in prison for disgraced Silicon Valley star Elizabeth Holmes, and the defense has argued for a maximum sentence of a year and a half, in papers filed Friday night.
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Convicted of fraud in January after a well-attended trial, the founder of Theranos, a start-up that promised to revolutionize blood tests, will be sentenced next Friday in federal court in California.
As the hearing approached, the prosecution sent a sharp indictment to the court asking it to sentence the 38-year-old woman to 15 years in prison and to return $800 million to her victims.
“Blinded by ambition”, Elizabeth Holmes “swindled hundreds of millions of dollars from dozens of investors” and “put patients in danger”, justified prosecutor Stephanie Hinds, accusing the fallen boss of not not take responsibility.
Mrs. Holmes does not pose a danger, did not benefit materially from this case, and therefore does not deserve a sentence of more than a year and a half in prison for having failed in her “ambitious project”, retorted her lawyers.
Elizabeth Holmes had founded Theranos in 2003, at just 19 years old, and promised diagnostic tools that were faster and cheaper than those of traditional laboratories.
With the help of a very elaborate story and appearance, she had managed in a few years to gain the trust of luminaries and to raise funds from prestigious investors attracted by the profile of this young woman, a rarity in the male world of Californian engineers.
At its peak, the company was valued at nearly 10 billion dollars, and Elizabeth Holmes, majority shareholder, is the head of a fortune of 3.6 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
The story was beautiful. As a child, she hated needle sticks during blood tests. She will therefore invent a simple, fast and efficient machine that will allow everyone to carry out hundreds of blood diagnoses from a single drop of blood taken from the tip of their finger.
But in 2015, the Wall Street Journal raised the huge pot of roses: the fabulous machine promised by Theranos never worked.