Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes on November 18, 2022 in San Jose, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of disgraced biotech firm Theranos, bought a one-way ticket to Mexico shortly after she was convicted of fraud last January, a court heard Thursday.
On January 3, 2022, Holmes was found guilty of four counts of lying to investors. Shortly thereafter, federal prosecutors allege in a filing that Holmes purchased a flight to Mexico departing Jan. 26, 2022, with no scheduled return trip. The US government became aware of the reservation on January 23, 2022.
“It was only after the government brought this unauthorized flight to the attention of defense counsel that the trip was canceled,” prosecutors say.
Thursday’s filing came as part of the government’s opposition to Holmes’ motion to be released pending an appeal of her conviction; in November, a judge sentenced Holmes to more than 11 years in prison. U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila ordered Holmes to appear in custody until April 27. It has not yet been determined where she will serve her sentence, but Davila did. he recommended a minimum security prison camp in Texas.
Holmes’ partner, William Evans, also bought a one-way ticket “and did not return until approximately six weeks later when he returned from another continent,” prosecutors said.
“The government expects (Holmes) to note in response that he did not in fact leave the country as planned — but it is difficult to know for sure what (Holmes) would have done had the government not intervened,” prosecutors said.
Prosecutors also say Holmes has access to vast financial resources.
“(Holmes) has lived at the estate for more than a year, where monthly expenses exceed $13,000 per month, based on (Holmes’) monthly cash flow statement provided to the U.S. Probation Office,” they write.
They further note that the judge found that Holmes “never fully appreciated it [s]he would be imprisoned” based on the “unfounded hopes that the court would give [her] probation.” Additionally, Holmes “has not demonstrated . . . in [her] in words or manner, the actual acceptance of it [s]stole a considerable amount of money [investors] by lying and falsifying documents,” prosecutors say.
They are so vehemently opposed to any relaxation.
“At the same time that her incentive to flee has never been higher, (Holmes) has asked the court to ease restrictions on her travel and allow her to travel outside the Northern District of California, and possibly out of state entirely, ‘due to the employment of her significant other.’
The U.S. maintains bilateral extradition treaties with Mexico dating back to the 19th century—perhaps in defiance of the belief that crossing the southern border guarantees freedom. Since 2005, Mexico has deported between 150 and 200 refugees to face charges in the US, according to the US State Department.
In one prominent example, Wanda Lee Ann Podgurski, convicted of disability and insurance fraud in 2013, was detained in Mexico for six months after an account in her name tweeted, “Catch me if you can.”
The US Marshals Service is the primary agency designated for tracking fugitives. In addition to maintaining an office in Mexico, the USMS works closely with law enforcement agencies along the Mexican-Canadian border and with the US State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.
Holmes’ attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.