In 2010, a Walgreens rep. warned Elizabeth Holmes and said, "you are going to get someone killed", to which she replied, "they don't put pretty people like me in jail".
Now, the notorious Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for fraud. Her fraud was not just financial but a level of fraud that put the lives of vulnerable patients at risk. This news comes at a time when US is witnessing the aftermath of Sam Bankman-Fried's fraud.
She promised to revolutionise the blood testing industry and got funded by VCs (who seem to have funded FTX as well, putting a question mark on the impact of VCs) but she did not develop any technology that revolutionized blood testing. Her company in fact outright faked blood tests, giving false results to numerous people.
Holmes has often sought to play the victim card, using her gender as a weapon in a lopsided American society, where policy makers have for decades promoted "equality" to push off more women in the labour market, to keep the wages down.
The Theranos CEO shrewdly used America's desire for "equality" to present herself as some kind of genius, whilst in her mind, knowing that she was a fraud and being quite proud that she is getting away with it. She was widely celebrated as an insurgent woman savant from Stanford, smashing "patriarchy" in Tech.
Holmes has earlier in her life claimed that she is a victim of rape and domestic abuse, it is unclear if those claims are rooted in facts or closer to the claims she made about her company.
The sentence imposed by US District Judge Edward Davila was shorter than the 15-year penalty requested by federal prosecutors but far tougher than the leniency her legal team sought for the mother of a year-old son with another child on the way.
Many have speculated that she has gotten pregnant multiple times to garner sympathy that people have towards mother and use it as a tool to delay her trial and avoid jail. In fact, her legal team said she should not be sent to prison, suggesting a house arrest for a maximum time of 18 months will be a good solution. Currently, Holmes lives in a large property with her partner, who is reportedly a trust fund kid.
Holmes, who was CEO throughout the Theranos company’s turbulent 15-year history, was convicted in January in the scheme, which revolved around the company’s claims to have developed a medical device that could detect a multitude of diseases and conditions from a few drops of blood. But the technology never worked.
The sentencing in the same San Jose, California, courtroom where Ms. Holmes was convicted on four counts of investor fraud and conspiracy in January marks another climactic moment in a saga that has been dissected in an HBO documentary and an award-winning Hulu series about her meteoric rise and mortifying downfall.
Documentary on her was so popular, that after the FTX fraud, Elon Musk asked people on Twitter, when a similar documentary on SBF will come out.
Prosecution also wanted Holmes to pay $804 million in restitution, to cover the nearly $1 billion that she raised from multiple investors that included software magnate Larry Ellison, media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the Walton family behind Walmart.
"While wooing investors, Ms. Holmes leveraged a high-powered Theranos board that included former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who testified against her during her trial, and two former secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and the late George Shultz, whose son submitted a statement blasting Ms. Holmes for concocting a scheme that played Mr. Shultz "for the fool.”", according to reports.
Some people have sought to find fault in the 11 year sentence, claiming mothers don't deserve harsh punishments. However, English common law is rooted in the principle that all individuals are equal before the law, irrespective of their race, gender or place in society. Although this principle is seldom followed in reality, this is one of the rare instances where it was.
According to data published by US Bureau of Justice Statistics, 58 percent of all women who enter prison are mothers of minor children. The idea that women who have children, or have given birth recently, are not capable of commiting crime, is rooted in bronze age superstitious mentality, contrary to scientific evidence from behavioural psychology literature.
It is worth flagging that most of the women who are jailed in US, tend to be african American, and perhaps it is the fact that a caucassian women is being jailed for 11 years, that is raising heckles.
The US disproportionately arrests African American, in many cases for petty crimes like selling marijuana, whilst people who commit crimes that cause far greater damage i.e. white collar criminals, tend to get away.
Federal prosecutor Robert Leach said Holmes engineered a scam that was the most egregious white-collar crime ever committed in Silicon Valley. In a 46-page memo, Leach told the judge he has an opportunity to send a message that curbs the hubris and hyperbole unleashed by the tech boom.
Holmes "preyed on hopes of her investors that a young, dynamic entrepreneur had changed healthcare. Through her deceit, she attained spectacular fame, adoration and billions of dollars of wealth," read the memo.
Holmes has not only showcased the hot air ballon that has emerged in sectors of the economy as a result of the tech boom, but also how people's avarice can be used against them, to fool them. Holmes has dealt a significant blow to women in Tech, who do face a slight form of discrimination.
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