Elizabeth Holmes begins prison term

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes started serving her 11-year prison sentence on Tuesday

Elizabeth Holmes begins prison term

The Theranos founder will serve her sentence for fraud at a minimum-security facility in Texas

Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of US startup Theranos who was once billed as the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, began serving an 11-year prison sentence on Tuesday.

The former biotechnology entrepreneur was found guilty of fraud last November after it emerged that her firm’s blood testing technology never actually worked.

Holmes, 39, was also ordered to pay a $452 million fine to compensate defrauded investors, among whom are media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and former US Treasury Secretary George Shultz. Her business partner, ex-Theranos boss Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani, is already serving a 13-year prison sentence in California.

Theranos was founded in 2003 and claimed it had technology that could detect serious health conditions with just a few drops of blood. The start-up was once valued at $9 billion. However, irregularities were reported with Theranos’ blood-testing machines and patients were discovered to have been given inaccurate test results relating to conditions such as HIV and cancer. The company collapsed in 2018.

Holmes will serve her 11-year sentence in a minimum-security, female-only prison in Bryan, Texas. The facility’s inmates serve sentences for non-violent crimes, low-level drug dealing, and white-collar offences.

Among the inmates is reality TV star Jen Shah from ‘The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’, who is serving six years for wire fraud.

Former inmates include Jenna Ryan, a real estate agent from Texas convicted of participating in the 2021 US Capitol riot, and Leah Fastow, the former assistant treasurer of American energy corporation Enron, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion.

According to the handbook of the Federal Prison Camp, the life of inmates largely revolves around work and extracurricular activities intended to prepare prisoners for life after incarceration. Among them are foreign language, computer literacy, and business courses. Work programs at the camp pay inmates between 12 cents and $1.15 an hour.