U.S. woman begins 11-year jail for blood-testing hoax

  • World
  • Wednesday, 31 May 2023

HOUSTON, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Elizabeth Holmes, a former U.S. entrepreneur having founded blood-testing device startup Theranos, on Tuesday reported to a federal prison in Bryan, south central U.S. state of Texas, to begin her 11-year term for fraud, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The report to the federal women's prison camp came more than a year after a jury convicted the 39-year-old woman on four felony counts of fraud and conspiracy in January 2022. She was sentenced in November to 135 months in jail.

As she started her sentence, Holmes will be leaving behind two young children, a son born in July 2021 and a 3-month-old daughter.

Holmes was first indicted in 2018. Her trial saw numerous delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and her first pregnancy.

The businesswoman dropped out of Stanford University at age 19 and founded Theranos in 2003. With Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, her then-boyfriend, chief operating officer and president, she claimed that the startup's proprietary blood analyzer device could use just a pinprick of blood to run faster, cheaper and more accurate tests than what labs normally required.

She persuaded some powerful people to join her board, including Henry Kissinger and late former secretary of state George Shultz and was once hailed as a pioneering businesswoman worth 4.5 billion U.S. dollars in the U.S. tech industry, according to local media reports.

Shultz's grandson Tyler Shultz, who worked at Theranos, became a whistleblower for a 2015 Wall Street Journal investigation that exposed flaws in its technology.

Balwani, now 57, was sentenced in December to serve nearly 13 years in prison for defrauding patients and investors. He reported to a federal prison in Southern California in April.

The two convicted were also ordered earlier this month to pay restitution in the amount of 452 million dollars to the victims of their hoax.

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