Elizabeth Holmes must begin her more than 11-year prison sentence on 27 April after a federal judge denied the disgraced Theranos founder’s request to remain free while she appeals her conviction.

Holmes, who was convicted on four counts of fraud and conspiracy related to the failed blood-testing startup in January 2022, is “not likely to flee or pose a danger” to the public, US district court judge Edward Davila wrote in his ruling. However, the San Jose based judge found that her appeal was unlikely to result in a reversal of the verdict or a new trial – a requirement for a defendant to remain free post-conviction.

Prosecutors had attempted to argue that Holmes did pose a flight risk, revealing that her partner had bought her a one-way flight to Mexico shortly before the verdict was returned. While Davila called the travel plans a “bold move” and Holmes’s failure to cancel the ticket post-conviction a “perilously careless oversight”, he accepted her assertion that she was not trying to flee the country.

Attorneys defending Holmes have raised a number of evidentiary and procedural issues with the trial in their appeal to the federal ninth circuit court of appeals. But Davila wrote that even if the appeals court agrees with Holmes that the lower court had made errors, the issues were not “substantial” enough to merit a reversal or new trial.

Holmes’s incarceration will mark an extraordinary fall from grace for the one-time Silicon Valley magnate.

A college dropout, Holmes was hailed as a visionary for her promise to revolutionize blood-testing with technology that could carry out hundreds of tests on a single drop of blood.

The startup attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and soared to a $9bn valuation before critical reporting by the Wall Street Journal revealed that the underlying technology did not work.

Holmes’s former business and romantic partner Sunny Balwani must also report to prison this month, after the ninth circuit rejected his request to remain free pending an appeal. Balwani was convicted on 12 counts of fraud and conspiracy and sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.


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