American Entrepreneur, Elizabeth Holmes Sentenced To 11 Years In Prison For Fraud
Fallen United States biotech star Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced Friday to 11 years and three months in prison for defrauding investors with her Silicon Valley start-up firm.
The Theranos founder had been convicted on four felony fraud counts in January for persuading investors that she had developed a revolutionary medical device before the company flamed out after an investigation by The Wall Street Journal.
The closely watched case became an indictment of Silicon Valley, and US federal prosecutors had sought a 15-year jail term for Holmes. She was sentenced to 135 months.
US attorney Stephanie Hinds said the sentence “reflects the audacity of her massive fraud and the staggering damage she caused.”
“For almost a decade, Elizabeth Holmes fabricated and spread elaborate falsehoods to draw in a legion of capital investors, both big and small, and her deceit caused the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars,” the prosecutor said in a statement following the judge’s decision.
Holmes, who is pregnant, will not have to surrender herself until April next year, ordered US District Judge Edward Davila in a courtroom in San Jose, California.
Holmes’s lawyer indicated she would appeal her conviction.
Moments before her sentencing, a tearful Holmes told the court, “I stand before you taking responsibility for Theranos. I loved Theranos. It was my life’s work.”
She added, “I am devastated by my failings. Every day for the past years I have felt deep pain for what people went through because I failed them.”
“I gave everything I had to building our company and trying to save our company.”
– ‘Tragedy’ –
Holmes became a star of Silicon Valley when she said her now defunct start-up was perfecting an easy-to-use test kit that could carry out a wide range of medical diagnostics with just a few drops of blood.
At the time, Holmes often dressed soberly in black turtlenecks that evoked her hero, the late Apple icon Steve Jobs.
She sold investors on the idea that her invention would disrupt medical practice, replacing expensive lab tests with her cheap kits.
But prosecutors said Holmes knew her device was not producing accurate and reliable results, yet induced dozens of investors to contribute nearly one billion dollars, all without ever achieving meaningful revenue.
Holmes’s meteoric rise and fast demise has been the subject of books, movies and a TV series that framed her story as a cautionary tale on the excesses of the tech industry that blindly followed a charismatic founder.
At one point, the Theranos board included former US Defense Secretary James Mattis and former US secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and the late George Shultz.
Sentencing Holmes on Friday, Davila said the case was a “tragedy” and “troubling on so many levels.”
He described Holmes as “a big thinker” who had fought to get into an industry dominated by “male ego.”
But he noted “significant evidence about manipulation and untruths that were being used in the negotiation of the business.”
“What is it that caused that? Was it hubris? Was it intoxication with the fame that comes from being a young entrepreneur?” he asked.
– ‘Amazing things’ –
After hearing her prison sentence, Holmes hugged her partner Billy Evans, who is the father of her 15-month-old son, and her mother, Noel Holmes.
Lawyers for Holmes, 38, had asked for leniency, presenting her as a devoted friend who cares for a young child and has a second child on the way.
This was backed up by 140 letters of support filed to the court, including from her family, friends and a US senator.
“I am confident that on the other side of this, Elizabeth will do amazing things for society with her talents and boundless passion for changing the world for the better,” said one letter.
That was in sharp contrast to descriptions given at her trial that painted her as an ambitious con artist who harassed her workers.
In a letter, Holmes’s aunt, who was an early investor in Theranos, called on the court to give her a tough sentence, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Prosecutors want Holmes to pay $800 million in restitution to investors that included the Walton family of Walmart, the Walgreens chain of pharmacies and media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
A restitution hearing will be scheduled, although Holmes says she has no money to pay.
Taliban Governor Of Afghan Province Killed In Suicide Attack In His Office
The Taliban governor of Afghanistan’s Balkh province, known for fighting against Islamic State jihadists, was killed in a suicide attack at his office on Thursday, officials said.
The killing, a day after he met top government officials visiting from Kabul, makes Mohammad Dawood Muzammil one of the highest-ranking figures slain since the Taliban stormed back to power in 2021.
Violence across Afghanistan has dramatically dropped since the Taliban seized control, but the security situation has again deteriorated with IS claiming several deadly attacks.
“Two people, including Mohammad Dawood Muzammil, the governor of Balkh, have been killed in an explosion this morning,” local police spokesman Asif Waziri told AFP, adding that the blast happened on the second floor of his office, in the provincial capital Mazar-i-Sharif.
“It was a suicide attack. We don’t have information as to how the suicide bomber reached the office of the governor,” he said, adding that two people were also wounded.
Authorities deployed extra security at the governorate, who forbade journalists from taking photos, an AFP correspondent reported from near the site of the blast.
Muzammil was “martyred in an explosion by the enemies of Islam”, tweeted government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
Muzammil was initially appointed governor of the eastern province of Nangarhar, where he led the fight against IS jihadists, before being moved to Balkh last year.
On Wednesday, he met two deputy prime ministers and other senior officials visiting Balkh to review a major irrigation project in northern Afghanistan, according to a government statement.
IS has emerged as the biggest security challenge to the Taliban government since last year, carrying out attacks against Afghan civilians as well as foreigners and foreign interests.
Several attacks have rocked Balkh, including in Mazar-i-Sharif last year, some claimed by IS.
In January, a suicide bomber killed at least 10 people when he blew himself up near the foreign ministry in Kabul, in an attack claimed by IS.
The Taliban and IS share an austere Sunni Islamist ideology, but the latter are fighting to establish a global “caliphate” instead of the Taliban’s more inward-looking goal of ruling an independent Afghanistan.
At least five Chinese nationals were wounded in December when gunmen stormed a hotel popular with businesspeople in Kabul.
That raid was claimed by IS, as was an attack on Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul in December that Islamabad denounced as an “assassination attempt” against its ambassador.
Two Russian embassy staff members were killed in a suicide bombing outside their mission in September in another attack claimed by IS.
Turkish Rescuers Pull Three Survivors From Rubble 13 Days After Earthquake
Turkish rescuers on Saturday pulled three people, including a child, alive from the rubble 13 days after a massive quake claimed tens of thousands of lives, but one later died, a Turkey media platform reported.
The channel did not provide any further details.
A journalist for Turkish television channel NTV later reported that one of those found had died after being taken to hospital.
NTV broadcast images of rescuers placing the rescued people onto stretchers after they had spent 296 hours trapped in the rubble.
A 7.8-magnitude tremor on February 6 rocked southeastern Turkey and Syria, killing more than 43,000 people and leaving millions without proper shelter.
Teams have been finding survivors all week despite them being stuck for so long under the rubble in freezing weather, but their numbers have dropped to just a handful in the past few days.
Turkish rescuers on Friday pulled a 45-year-old man from rubble, several hours after others discovered three people including a 14-year-old boy alive under debris.
Ghana Footballer Christian Atsu Found Dead In Turkey Earthquake Rubble
The body of former Ghana international Christian Atsu has been found after a devastating earthquake in Turkey, local media reported Saturday, quoting his manager.
Atsu, 31, was caught up in a 7.8-magnitude quake that rocked Turkey and Syria on February 6, killing more than 43,000 people in both countries.
There were initial reports the former Chelsea and Newcastle player had been rescued a day after the quake, but these turned out to be false.
His manager in Turkey, Murat Uzunmehmet, told DHA news agency on Saturday that his body had been found under the rubble in the Turkish southern province of Hatay.
“We have reached his lifeless body. His belongings are still being removed. His phone was also found,” Uzunmehmet told DHA.
Ghana’s ministry of foreign affairs said it had “received the unfortunate news”.
“The elder brother and twin sister of Christian Atsu and an officer of the (Ghanaian) embassy were present at the site when the body was recovered,” the ministry said in a statement.
Ghana said it was working with the Turkish government to organise the transport of the body back to Atsu’s home country for burial.
Midfielder Atsu spent four seasons at Chelsea before a permanent transfer to Newcastle in 2017. He signed last September for Turkish Super Lig side Hatayspor.
Chelsea issued a statement declaring: “It is with enormous sadness that Chelsea Football Club receives the news that Christian Atsu is confirmed as one of the many victims of the dreadful earthquake in Turkey and Syria.”
Newcastle also paid hommage to “a talented player and a special person”.
The club added: “He will always be fondly remembered by our players, staff and supporters.
“Initially joining on loan, he played a key role in the Magpies squad that secured the Championship title in 2017 before making a permanent move to help us establish our place back in the Premier League.”
Search and rescue workers found Atsu’s body where he was staying at Ronesans Residence, a block of high-rise luxury flats that toppled over in Antakya city in Hatay.
Turkish police arrested the building’s contractor at Istanbul airport last week as he appeared to be heading to Montenegro, according to state news agency Anadolu.