March 22, 2024

Elizabeth Holmes’s

potential prison term for defrauding investors, like her company’s blood-testing technology, will likely fall short of what’s advertised, according to an analysis of federal data by a sentencing consultant.

The Theranos Inc. founder was convicted of fraud and conspiracy charges that could trigger up to 80 years in prison by statute. U.S. sentencing guidelines, which judges must consider, recommend the equivalent of life in prison for offenders found guilty of fraud conspiracies as large as Ms. Holmes’s, based on the amount she raised from investors during the scheme.

In practice, government data shows judges have for years been handing down more lenient sentences than the guidelines manual suggests for economic crimes such as fraud, larceny and insider trading.

In 2021, 41% of defendants sentenced under guidelines for economic crimes received prison time within or above the recommended range, U.S. Sentencing Commission records show. That’s down from 56% a decade earlier, the records show.

Ms. Holmes is likely to appeal her conviction on four counts of conspiracy and fraud charges involving investors. She will remain out of prison until at least her sentencing. No sentencing date has been set. Lawyers for Ms. Holmes and a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of California didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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