Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes convicted of fraud and conspiracy

ITV News Correspondent Robert Moore reports on the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes, whose promise to create revolutionary blood test was deemed a scam

Elizabeth Holmes has been convicted of fraud for turning her blood-testing start-up Theranos into a sophisticated sham.

The scheme duped billionaires and other unwitting investors into backing a seemingly revolutionary company whose medical technology never worked as promised.

A jury convicted the 37-year-old on two counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud after seven days of deliberation.

Elizabeth Holmes faces ‘at least a few years’ in prison, according to one expert Credit: Nic Coury/AP

The verdict followed a three-month trial featuring dozens of witnesses — including Holmes herself. She now faces up to 20 years in prison for each count, although legal experts say she is unlikely to receive anything close to the maximum sentence.

The jury deadlocked on three remaining charges. The split verdicts are “a mixed bag for the prosecution, but it’s a loss for Elizabeth Holmes because she is going away to prison for at least a few years”, said David Ring, a lawyer who has followed the case closely.

Federal prosecutors presented evidence to depict Holmes as a charlatan obsessed with fame and fortune.

In seven days on the witness stand, she cast herself as a visionary trailblazer in male-dominated Silicon Valley who was emotionally and sexually abused by her former lover and business partner, Sunny Balwani.

Holmes was supported throughout the trial by her current partner Billy Evans, right Credit: AP

The trial also exposed the pitfalls of one of the go-to moves of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs - conveying a boundless optimism regardless of whether it is warranted, known as 'Fake It ‘Til You Make It'.

That ethos helped hatch groundbreaking companies such as Google, Netflix, Facebook, and Apple - the latter co-founded by one of Holmes’ heroes, Steve Jobs.

Her conviction might lower the wattage - at least temporarily - on the brash promises and bold exaggerations that have become a routine part of the tech industry’s innovation hustle.

What was Theranos and what did the firm's technology claim to do?

Theranos, founded by Holmes aged 19 in 2003, was at one point valued at £6.5 billion.

The firm was seen as the darling of Silicon Valley as it promised to revolutionise the healthcare industry.Holmes set out to create a cheaper, less painful and more convenient method to scan for hundreds of diseases by taking a finger prick of blood instead of inserting a needle into a vein.

She said that a machine called 'Edison' could screen the blood to provide early diagnosis of hundreds of conditions and could be used at accessible locations such as grocery stores and pharmacies.

But these claims began to unravel in 2015 after a Wall Street Journal investigation revealed how this blood-testing technology did not actually work and was inaccurate.

The newspaper exposed how tests were actually running on traditional lab equipment behind closed doors.

Holmes went from an unknown to a Silicon Valley sensation who had amassed a $4.5 billion fortune on paper to a vilified failure. Credit: AP

Holmes remained seated and expressed no visible emotion as the verdicts were read.

She bowed her head several times before the jury was polled by US District Judge Edward Davila and after the judge left the courtroom to meet with jurors individually, Holmes got up to hug her partner, Billy Evans, and her parents before leaving with her lawyers.

Holmes did not respond to questions about the verdicts lobbed at her during a walk from the courthouse to the nearby hotel where she has stayed during jury deliberations.

She was to remain free on bond while awaiting sentencing, which will be determined by the judge.