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Convicted Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes denies ‘baseless’ claim she planned to flee to Mexico to avoid prison

January 23, 2023, 7:39 PM UTC
Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asked a judge to strike from the record what she called a “baseless” claim by the US that she planned to flee to Mexico if convicted.

The government made the allegation in a filing last week arguing that Holmes should report to prison as scheduled in April rather than living on an expensive estate while she appeals her conviction. She was found guilty of fraud a year ago for her role in building the blood-testing startup into a $9 billion company that collapsed in scandal.

In a response filed Monday, Holmes’s lawyer said the government was misrepresenting her planned trip to Mexico for a wedding in late January 2022, which was booked when she thought she might be acquitted. Once the verdict was in, she “did not intend to make the trip,” according to the filing.

“The court has Ms. Holmes’s passport, which has been expired for years,” her lawyer said in the filing. “She is in frequent contact with multiple pretrial services officers. She has a flawless pretrial services record.”

‘Negative Effects’

The government’s accusations have been reported in the press and “already have produced negative effects” for Holmes and her partner, Billy Evans, “beyond this case,” according to the filing.

The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Holmes appealed her conviction on Dec. 2, two weeks after she was ordered to serve more than 11 years in prison for deceiving investors in Theranos. She has argued she should be allowed to remain free because there’s no risk she will flee and because she intends to raise “substantial issues” that may warrant a new trial. 

A hearing is set for March 17.

Evans booked flights to Mexico for himself and Holmes on US-based airlines using her name in December 2021, the month before the verdict, according to Monday’s filing. Evans hadn’t yet canceled the trip when the US asked about the booking, but by then “there was no way for her to go,” her lawyer said.

‘Time Has Come’

Holmes’s lawyer said Evans canceled the ticket after the government’s inquiry and that prosecutors were satisfied by her explanation.

“The government never mentioned the incident again” and “never suggested it believed Ms. Holmes was attempting to flee,” her lawyer said. “It did not report the incident to the court, to Pretrial Services, or to Probation.”

Prosecutors have argued that the “time has come” for Holmes to serve her sentence for crimes committed almost a decade ago, after US District Judge Edward Davila already gave her a “generous” 4 1/2 months after sentencing to have her second child before she surrenders to authorities.

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