Elizabeth Holmes: Theranos founder ‘booked flight to Mexico’ in attempt to flee US, prosecutor says

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Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was convicted of fraud in January 2022

Elizabeth Holmes is a flight risk and should not be allowed to stay out of prison while she appeals against her 11-year prison sentence for defrauding investors, federal prosecutors have said.

Holmes had a one-way plane ticket to Mexico booked for January 26, 2022, three weeks after being convicted by a jury on four counts of fraud and conspiracy, federal prosecutors said in a motion filed on Thursday (19 January) in federal court in Northern California.

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Holmes, who was chief executive of Theranos during the company’s turbulent 15-year history, was convicted in a scheme that revolved around the company’s claims to have developed a medical device that could detect a multitude of diseases and conditions from a few drops of blood. But the technology never worked, and the claims were false.

Holmes booked the 2022 flight without a scheduled return trip and only cancelled it after prosecutors contacted Holmes’ attorneys about the “unauthorised flight”, prosecutors said. Holmes’ lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

Here is all you need to know:

Lawyers said Holmes “does not plan to take the trip”

In a January 23, 2022 email responding to prosecutors’ concerns about the planned trip, they said Holmes had booked it before the jury’s verdict to attend a wedding in Mexico. “Given the verdict, she does not plan to take the trip and therefore did not provide notice, seek permission, or request access to her passport (which the government has) for the trip,” wrote Lance Wade, one of Holmes’ layers.

Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes on November 18, 2022 in San Jose, California. Holmes appeared in federal court for sentencing after being convicted of four counts of fraud for allegedly engaging in a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud investors in her company Theranos, which offered blood testing lab services. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes on November 18, 2022 in San Jose, California. Holmes appeared in federal court for sentencing after being convicted of four counts of fraud for allegedly engaging in a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud investors in her company Theranos, which offered blood testing lab services. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes on November 18, 2022 in San Jose, California. Holmes appeared in federal court for sentencing after being convicted of four counts of fraud for allegedly engaging in a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud investors in her company Theranos, which offered blood testing lab services. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) | Getty Images

On 17 November, US District Judge Edward Davila sentenced Homes to more than 11 years in prison. Judge Davila ordered Holmes, who is pregnant, to report to prison on 27 April, giving her enough time to give birth to her second child before she is incarcerated. She gave birth to a son shortly before her trial started last year.

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Prosecutors did not protest against Judge Davila’s decision to give Holmes five months of freedom or bring up the fact that they considered her a flight risk. Holmes is scheduled to return to court on 17 March for a hearing on her request to stay out of prison while she appeals her conviction.

Who is Elizabeth Holmes?

NationalWorld have an indepth profile on the 38-year-old who was once a rising star in Silicon Valley. She set up Theranos when she was 19.

Holmes is the daughter of successful businessman Christian Holmes, who was a vice president of the energy firm Enron, which would later collapse under the weight of a high-profile accounting scandal.

Before an investigation by the Wall Street Journal in late 2015 questioning the tech behind Theranos’ blood-testing method, Holmes received a number of awards and accolades for her work with the firm. She was named one of the Time magazine 100 most influential people and Glamour’s woman of the year in 2015.

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At its height, the company had a multi-billion dollar valuation, meaning Holmes as a major shareholder was thought to be one of the richest women in the US. Between 2003 when she first launched the firm and 2012, Holmes managed to attract high profile backers from the world of venture capital, plus investments from Australian media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.