Elizabeth Holmes, the Theranos founder and former Stanford student who was accused of misleading investors and consumers about the effectiveness of her company’s blood-testing technology, was found guilty of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on Monday afternoon.
The verdict comes after over three months of proceedings in a case that raised questions about Silicon Valley’s start-up culture and the healthcare industry.
Each count carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. The jury, which deliberated for more than 50 hours across seven days, acquitted Holmes of four other fraud charges but was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on three other counts, over which U.S. District Judge Edward Davila declared a mistrial. A hearing on the three counts is scheduled for next Monday.
Holmes said in her defense that she believed in Theranos’s technological capabilities and blamed other employees for the company’s failings. Holmes specifically blamed Ramesh Balwani, her former boyfriend and Theranos chief operating officer, with whom she said she was in a long-term abusive relationship (Balwani denies the allegations).
Holmes first founded Theranos in 2003 as a sophomore, dropping out of Stanford a year later to focus on the company. Quickly winning over several high-profile figures in U.S. politics and business to her board of directors — including former Hoover Institution fellow George Shultz — Holmes was able to secure hundreds of millions of dollars from an all-star cast of investors. Her proposed blood-testing technology promised to be able to detect diseases with just the prick of a finger.
Theranos was valued as high as $9 billion before the publication of a 2015 bombshell exposé in The Wall Street Journal that kickstarted a spectacular collapse for the startup. Following a series of federal investigations, both Holmes and Balwani were indicted in 2018 on nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Balwani faces trial in February and has pleaded not guilty.