SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — Elizabeth Holmes will not be going to prison in the near future. On Wednesday, a judge set her sentencing hearing for Sept. 26, nearly eight months after a jury found her guilty on four counts of fraud and conspiracy.
The former CEO of Theranos will remain out of custody until the hearing. She is living in a mansion in Woodside with her partner, Billy Evans, and their 6-month-old baby.
According to court records and real estate listings, the couple lives on a $135-million estate, Green Gables. The estate has multiple mansions, four pools, a tennis court, and sprawling gardens.
When a jury convicted Holmes on Jan. 3, she left the federal courthouse in San Jose surrounded by media cameras. Holmes did not answer questions from reporters who followed her down the street.
She will likely keep a low profile until September.
Holmes’ sentence will be decided by the judge who presided over her trial, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila. If he wants to throw the book at Holmes, he could sentence her to a maximum of 20 years in prison.
“Contrary to public sentiment, her sentencing will not be a slap on the wrist. She’s looking at serious prison time,” legal analyst Michele Hagan told KRON4 Wednesday.
Why did Holmes’ attorneys ask for her sentencing hearing to be pushed back for eight months?
Holmes, 37, could use the time to make legal maneuvers aiming for a shorter sentence, Hagan said.
“She has leverage right now. She has the power to take actions that could reduce her sentence,” Hagan said.
One strategy Holmes may try is agreeing to testify against Sunny Balwani. Balwani was COO of Theranos and prosecutors charged him with the same 12 counts as Holmes. They were co-defendants until their trials were separated. Balwani’s federal fraud trial is slated to begin in February.
Holmes already testified about Balwani at her own trial. She testified in self-defense and blamed him for what went wrong at Theranos.
Holmes and Balwani were in a secret romantic relationship while they were CEO and COO of her Silicon Valley biotech company. Balwani controlled her life, abused her emotionally and sexually, and told her she’d fail without him, Holmes testified.
“She could cooperative with the government’s case. Her testimony would be helpful to convict Balwani. If she cooperates, it’s a mitigating factor. It could reduce the amount of time she goes to prison,” Hagan said.
As a second possible strategy for leniency, Holmes could waive her right to appeal her conviction. In exchange, Holmes’ defense attorney could make a deal with prosecutors to reduce the numbers of years it recommends for her sentence.
“The third thing is, I don’t recall her accepting any responsibility for what happened. She didn’t say ‘I’m sorry.’ Accepting responsibility is another mitigating factor to reduce her sentence for prison time,” Hagan said.
For two similar fraud cases, Judge Davila sentenced the fraudsters to 108 months in prison for a $9.9 million scheme, and 140 months for a $48 million scheme.
Holmes, however, will likely face a longer sentence because the victims in her case were defrauded out of $144 million, Hagan said.
A jury found Silicon Valley’s former “golden girl” guilty of defrauding sophisticated investors who were kept in the dark about Theranos’ technology failures.
The company’s blood testing machines frequently failed to produce accurate test results for patients, according to testimony. Holmes portrayed her technology as revolutionary and ready to be used in Walgreens pharmacies.
FBI Special Agent Craig Fair said, “Elizabeth Holmes chose fraud over business failure. A jury has determined, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she intentionally misled investors. FBI San Francisco agents and analysts … spent years investigating allegations of fraud within Theranos to uncover the truth and ensure justice in this case.”
The jury convicted Holmes on one count of conspiracy and three counts of wire fraud relating to her scheme to defraud investors out of $140 million. The jury acquitted Holmes of four patient-related conspiracy and fraud counts.