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California tech CEO sentenced to 8 years for COVID, allergy test fraud case

A Silicon Valley executive who lied to investors about inventing technology that tested for allergies and COVID-19 using only a few drops of blood was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in prison and ordered to pay $24 million in restitution, federal prosecutors said.

Mark Schena, 60, was convicted last year of paying bribes to doctors and defrauding the government after his company billed Medicare $77 million for fraudulent COVID-19 and allergy tests, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.

Schena claimed his Sunnyvale, California-based company, Arrayit Corporation, had the only laboratory in the world that offered “revolutionary microarray technology” that allowed it to test for allergies and COVID-19 with the same finger-stick test kit, prosecutors said.

The case against Schena shared similarities with a more prominent legal saga surrounding former Silicon Valley star Elizabeth Holmes, who dropped out of Stanford University in 2003 to found a company called Theranos that she pledged would revolutionize health care with a technology that could scan for hundreds of diseases and other issues with just a few drops of blood, too.

Holmes was convicted on four felony counts of investor fraud following a nearly four-month trial in the same San Jose, California, courtroom where Schena’s trial was held. In May, Holmes entered a Texas prison where she could spend the next 11 years.

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