back to article Elizabeth Holmes is not going to prison – for the moment

Elizabeth Holmes, the now-former CEO of the imploded blood-testing startup Theranos who was convicted of conspiracy and wire fraud over her role in defrauding investors, has managed to delay the start of her 11-year prison sentence, which was due to begin tomorrow.  In a last-ditch appeal [PDF] to the Ninth Circuit Court of …

  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

    1. Spamfast
      IT Angle

      If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

      Alternatively, use the money you bilked from a bunch of gullible idiots to pay for a solid legal team.

      Let's see how long her partner in crime actually spends in jail on that 12 year, 11 month sentence.

      Rich white collar criminals seldom pay even when caught.

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Let's see how long her partner in crime actually spends in jail on that 12 year, 11 month sentence.

        Under federal truth-in-sentencing laws he must serve at least 85% of it, which would be nearly 11 years.

        1. Spamfast

          Under federal truth-in-sentencing laws he must serve at least 85% of it, which would be nearly 11 years.

          Except that it'll get watered down by Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel. And/or they'll get transfered to a minimum sec 'oh I can't go out at night' facility.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Minimum security is a possibility, but watering down isn't, unless he's planning on appealing and hoping for a better outcome. If he were planning on that he likely would have done it by now. There really isn't a lot of wiggle room on federal sentences once they're handed down, unless you're a political operative who can expect a pardon from an outgoing President.

        2. Toe Knee


          White collar criminal getting early release? Never!!!


      2. Youngone Silver badge

        Those "gullible idiots" included a former Secretary of State and several retired senior military leaders.

        I'm going to use the term "greedy arseholes" instead.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          None of whom are likely to have any knowledge of biological or medical science. But that's true of most investors and the domains in which they invest. The system depends on honesty when the investment is offered. I could envisage a less extreme case where the investors do have some knowledge and the project looks sufficiently feasible but isn't.

          1. Steve Button Silver badge

            Yeah that's true, but it would not take a genius to ask Theranos to produce a blood test on yourself (as a potential investor) and then compare that to an independent traditional blood test and compare the results. Indeed some of the investors tried to do this, but Theranos fobbed them off. At this point in the due diligence the sensible ones walked away. If you are going to invest millions of dollars+ into a venture, it's really a no brainer to spend a few hundred validating their claims.

            1. blackcat Silver badge

              This is silly-con valley! No-one does due diligence.

              They are after rapid and large profit.

              1. Steve Button Silver badge

                Yeah, good point. What was I thinking?

                Although... you'd think. After Theranos? They have learned some lessons?

                Silly me.

                1. NoneSuch Silver badge

                  Theranos came after ENRON, Bernie Madoff and the 2008 collapse of the stock market.

                  The only lesson to learn is you have to do your own due dilagence.

              2. martinusher Silver badge

                >No-one does due diligence.

                If you're dealing with real vulture capitalists then they do have people in place to evaluate the businesses that are asking for finance. They're ofen people who have successfully started companies that the VC firm had funded in the past.

                VCs take risks but they're calculated risks. I think the trick with Theranos was that they kept away from real VCs and went directly to potential investors using the 'firends and fanily'trick. This is what may have tipped the scale from 'bright idea but it really wasn't viable so tough luck' to 'they're running a scam'.

        2. Andy Tunnah

          And a mass murderer!

          Henry Kissinger was involved. So maybe the first time in history he was the one who got screwed, instead of the millions of civilians whose deaths he caused.

        3. R Soul Silver badge

          Why not use both? These gullible idiots were greedy arseholes.

          1. Jedit Silver badge

            I'm not sure why the OP thought otherwise. "Stupid enough to believe you, greedy enough to want to believe you" is practically the dictionary definition of "sucker".

  2. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

    The best legal system money can buy

    If she had cashed a fraudulent cheque for $50 and was not rich she would already eating the gluten-full porridge and being careful to not pick up any soap in the showers.

    1. llaryllama

      Re: The best legal system money can buy

      Not sure what you're getting at, people who pass fraudulent checks shouldn't be prosecuted or people should be thrown in jail during a complex trial because they're "probably" guilty?

      1. mpi Silver badge

        Re: The best legal system money can buy

        A legal systems likelyhood of whether or not punishment is actually getting carried out shouldn't hinge on how much money the parties involved are able to spend on lawyers.

      2. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: The best legal system money can buy


        You clearly don't understand the US legal system.

        Even a cursory glance will show you that there is a disproportionate amount of poor (mainly black) persons in prison. It's well known if you are poor, black you are more likely to go to prison for a minor crime, than a rich white person is for a major crime. Throw in the bias towards ethnical biased laws and the issue is multiplied. Add to that bail bonds the poor can't afford, then you are already in prison for a major length of time, even if innocent.

        It's not known as the best legal system

        "A street kid gets arrested, gonna do some time

        he got out three years from now just to commit more crime

        A businessman is caught with 24 kilos, he's out on bail and out of jail and that's the way it goes"

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: The best legal system money can buy

          There's also a difference between federal and state charges, when it comes to bail policy. If you're being charged with a federal crime, the presumption is that you should be allowed out on bail. The government has to demonstrate you're a flight risk in order to deny it. State and local court systems vary more and often are more subjective and punitive.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The best legal system money can buy

        Weathy people who steal millions get far, far softer treatment from the criminal justice system than poor people who commit petty crime. If Holmes wasn't one of the privileged elite and had stolen $50 of tat from Walmart, they'd have thrown her in jail long ago.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    A good idea would be to add the length of time delayed by failed appeals to the overall length of the sentence. Delay 6 months, get to when the sentence would normally have ended and there's still a year to go, 6 months due to the late start and another 6 as added time.

    1. aerogems Silver badge

      I'm sure that would be struck down as cruel and unusual punishment as well as a violation of the person's due process rights. Until you either accept your lot or your appeals are exhausted, there's still a measure of presumptive innocence baked into the process.

    2. Andy Tunnah

      Thank god you don't right laws, what sort of nonsense is this.

      Knee jerk ideas to punish the "right" people, would only end up being used as a tool to punish the desperate.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Nah, it's much better this way.

      She's desperately trying to not go to prison, but she knows she'll end up there like the turd circling the drain.

      I very much prefer her to be in panick mode now so that, when she is finally sent to jail, she feels the full weight of her guilt.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Depends on the legal system but normally the sentence starts when incarceration starts. Time in detention before trial is often recognised, which is why many people who've been on remand are released after sentencing because it takes so long to go to trial.

      I'm still not convinced that the sentence matches the crime. Yes, it was fraud, but that happens all the time in America and punishments are slight. Look at the case of Marin Shrkeli. His crimes were arguably greater but his sentence shorter (7 years) and we was released after 4. Silicon Valley routinely lure investors into putting their money into questionable business schemes. And yet, despite multiple high profile failures, the system continues essentially unchanged.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        In the UK at least, sentence guidelines take into account all sorts of things from pleading guilty from the outset to whether remorse is shown etc. If there's a range available, I'd expect people who "play" the system and keep appealing and losing might get a longer sentence than someone who accepts the guilty verdict in the first place. But, as with so many court cases, it's always possible that the verdict is actually wrong for any of a number of reasons and so an appeals process is rightly part of the system. I think under UK law it is required that all known evidence is produced during the case and appeals are granted based on technical failures in the original case or if genuinely new evidence likely to affect the original verdict which can be shown to be not previously known to either party. From what I've seen of some US court cases, it seems like the defendants legal team only provide the minimum evidence they think they need to win the case. When they fail, they then appeal with the second string evidence they already knew about but didn't use. This seems to mean, as in this case, constant and seemingly never ending appeals over years.

      2. Bebu Silver badge

        convinced that the sentence matches the crime.

        "I'm still not convinced that the sentence matches the crime."

        Perhaps the court paid more attention to those people who paid for tests whose fraudulant results have lead to real harm?

        Defrauding an equally crooked pack of foolish investors of their ill gotten gains is barely a crime.

        I think one of Buffet's rule of investing was to first understand the business.

  4. Howard Sway Silver badge

    said to have booked a one-way ticket to Mexico soon after she was found guilty.

    In a sane legal system, if this was found to be true, that would immediately book you a one-way ticket to the clink to await your appeal.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: said to have booked a one-way ticket to Mexico soon after she was found guilty.

      It's such a ridiculous thing to do. Surely you'd buy a return and just not come back? Then, if (when) you get caught you can just say "it was just a break, of course I wasn't planning on running off"

      1. BebopWeBop

        Re: said to have booked a one-way ticket to Mexico soon after she was found guilty.

        Maybe she has spent all her dosh on defence lawyers?

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: said to have booked a one-way ticket to Mexico soon after she was found guilty.

        For that matter, isn't surrendering your passport generally a condition of bail? Maybe that's just on television.

    2. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: said to have booked a one-way ticket to Mexico soon after she was found guilty.

      That should have invalidated her bail immediately. If she didn't have expensive lawyers who had a dictionary full of weasel words to deploy, I'm sure it would have done.

  5. aerogems Silver badge

    Have the prosecutors checked to make sure she hasn't booked another flight to Mexico or Canada? Hopefully they put her on the no-fly list until her sentence is served or overturned and alerted TSA and border patrol to be on the lookout for her on the off chance she attempts going by train, boat, or some other method.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      The no-fly list is a giant pile of crap, and "Elizabeth Holmes" doesn't seem like a particularly unusual name. Just have her surrender her passport; that should make leaving by commercial air travel sufficiently difficult. (If she can get a forged passport, she can get one under a different name, so the no-fly would still be useless.)

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      You can walk over the border into Mexico or Canada. The smart move would be to walk over the border to Tijuana's airport -- there's a walkway that joins the US to this airport, its right by the border fence -- and then catch a flight to.....whereever.

      If you're expecting people to look out for you at this point then you can just park your car at the border and walk through the gate at San Ysidro. Then get a taxi to the airport.

      1. MrBanana

        You have probably said too much.

  6. Winkypop Silver badge

    Orange turtlenecks are in this season

    Quit stalling, the sooner you get started, the sooner it will be over.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Hump harder Billy - you've gotta save me!"

    "I'm whatever the opposite of 'going' is! You're so good!"

  8. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Each day free

    is a kind of win.

    But if these allegations are supportied, the appeal has a strong case.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Each day free

      That's a very big if. The allegations behind her appeal are the finest bullshit whataboutery, the best expensive lawyers can invent.

      Holmes is guilty. She deliberately committed fraud for many years and knew beyond any doubt she was doing that. She belongs in jail.

  9. Azamino

    Adam Smith nailed it

    Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.

  10. R Soul Silver badge

    It's all so predictable

    While we wait for her appeal, Holmes will drop a few more sprogs and use the "won't someone think of the children?" defence when the case comes to court.

  11. navarac Bronze badge


    The longer this crook prevaricates, the longer it is before she gets out of jail. Perhaps they should just jail her and let her argue her case from inside.

  12. RLWatkins

    Only cheat investors who are too small to outspend you.

    This is the lesson of Facebook: start the cheating out on a small scale, and ramp it up as you accumulate capital.

    Homes got greedy, ramped up the cheating more quickly than she could build defenses against the victims.

    Hate thieves, but we've let the US turn into a haven for them. The big ones are never called to account.

  13. CowHorseFrog

    Elizabeth is a perfect summary of all that is wrong with America.

    Why do they worship CEOs when they are all people of the worst kind who multiply everything that is bad.

    Who built up China, and sent all that technology and skills to become a world power ? People like Elizabeth.

    Why is there no healthcare or workers rights people like Elizabeth.

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