Elizabeth Holmes Attempts to Clean Up Her Image As Lawyers Appeal Fraud Conviction

Disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes had her first child shortly before her trial began, and then later appeared at her sentencing hearing well into her second pregnancy. Some have said that having children was a tactic to have her sentence reduced. 

She was facing a total of 65 years, received 11 and 3 months, but her lawyers were seeking a mere 18 months…of house arrest. Other, more cynical observers say the pregnancies are testament to her resolve that she won’t go to jail. They have yet to be proven wrong.

Very shortly before her 11-year minimum security prison sentence was supposed to begin, Holmes, who recently gave birth to her second child, was allowed to delay the start of her sentence until her case goes through the appeals process. Her lawyers are appealing her guilty verdict to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, alleging “numerous, inexplicable errors” in US District Judge Edward Davila’s ruling. 

Davila in November denied Holmes’ lawyers attempt to deny sentencing by requesting a new trial, citing “newly discovered” evidence. The judge ruled that the arguments brought forward by Holmes’ lawyers for a new trial did not have enough merit to prove allegations of government misconduct, and the statements that the lawyers were referring to as newly discovered evidence were not material to result in an acquittal.

“This is a fraud case where an exciting venture went forward with great expectations only to be dashed by untruths, misrepresentations, plain hubris and lies,” Davila said in November before handing down the sentence.

The 39-year-old former Silicon Valley star was found guilty of defrauding investors, to whom she made promises of a groundbreaking blood-testing technology that failed to materialize. She was convicted of three counts of wire fraud.

The Clean Up Attempt

Around the time Holmes was supposed to have started serving her sentence, she was photographed for an exclusive by The Daily Mail, walking barefoot along the shore near her beachside home with her partner, hotel heir Billy Evans, and their two young children — “putting on a brave face ahead of her sentence, going about her daily life as if nothing is bothering her,” the news outlet claimed. 

The photos showed a different, softer side of Holmes. At this point, she had long shed the Steve Jobs-analog image with the black turtleneck and messy hair, but the grainy, pap-style Daily Mail photos showed something entirely new — it was a peek into a day in the life of this regular, barefoot couple, just raising children and walking by the beach. Like no billion-dollar biotech fraud ever occurred. 

Less than two weeks later, The New York Times runs a piece about Holmes shedding more of her past self like the letters of her name. She goes by “Liz” now. And she feels bad, but it’s not her fault. She was so young, she couldn’t possibly know everything that was going on as the founder, CEO, and face of the company. Somehow, it was all the work of president and COO/former lover Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani.

Balwani, who is also appealing his verdict, was found guilty of 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He began serving his 13-year prison sentence on April 20.

The Times says Holmes has been volunteering 12-hour shifts at a rape crisis hotline. And she’s also apparently shed the deep voice everyone kind of knew was fake — “Maybe people picked up on that not being authentic, since it wasn’t,” she told The Times, referring to her entire persona.

Like Rupert Murdoch and many other big names who were persuaded to invest hundreds of millions in Theranos, The Times’ writer fell deep into those “piercing blue eyes” — convinced she was “essentially writing a story about two different people.”


Information for this story was found via The New York Times, The Daily Mail, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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