Cupertino Courier

Feds say Holmes `attempted to flee' U.S.

Her lawyer says booking was made pre-conviction, not post-conviction

- By Ethan Baron ebaron@ bayareanew­

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes tried to flee the U.S. after a jury convicted her of felony fraud in early 2022, federal prosecutor­s alleged in a new court filing.

“Holmes booked an internatio­nal flight to Mexico departing on January 26, 2022, without a scheduled return trip,” the document from prosecutor­s, filed Jan. 19, said. It was only after government prosecutor­s contacted Holmes' legal team about the “unauthoriz­ed flight” that the trip was cancelled.

“The government anticipate­s (Holmes) will note in reply that she did not in fact leave the country as scheduled — but it is difficult to know with certainty what (she) would have done had the government not intervened,” the filing said.

Holmes' partner, hotel heir Billy Evans, left the country on that day in January with a one-way ticket and didn't return for several weeks. “I was informed by our federal partners that Elizabeth Holmes' partner, William Evans, left on the scheduled date (Jan. 26, 2022) to Mexico, and returned on March 4, 2022, from Cape Town, South Africa,” prosecutor Kelly Volkar

said in a declaratio­n submitted as an exhibit with the filing.

Holmes, 38, was convicted after a four-month trial on four counts of fraud for bilking investors in her now-defunct blood-testing startup out of more than $144 million. In November, Judge Edward Davila in U.S. District Court sentenced a pregnant Holmes to more than 11 years in prison, deferring her incarcerat­ion until April 27.

Lawyers for Holmes did not immediatel­y respond to prosecutor­s' claims.

In a letter from Holmes attorney Lance Wade to prosecutor­s emailed Jan. 23, 2022 and submitted by prosecutor­s as an exhibit in their filing, Wade said Holmes' flight reservatio­n for Mexico was made before the jury's verdict. “The hope was that the verdict would be different and Ms. Holmes would be able to make this trip to attend the wedding of close friends in Mexico,” the letter said. “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. But she also had not yet cancelled the trip, amidst everything that has been going on. We will have her do so promptly.”

The prosecutio­n's allegation

that Holmes sought to flee the U.S. came in response to her December motion seeking to delay her imprisonme­nt until the appeals process is finished, which legal experts said could take a year or more. In her motion, Holmes claimed she was not a flight risk.

“The Court has already found that Ms. Holmes is not a flight risk … when it permitted her to remain in the community both before and after conviction,” the motion said. “Ms. Holmes surrendere­d her passport and is unable to travel internatio­nally. She has been under supervisio­n for over four years.”

The motion added that Holmes did not flee during

her court case or “in the immediate aftermath of her conviction or sentencing,” and argued that “no evidence suggests she will flee” while appealing her conviction.

“She has strong ties to her partner and family, including her son and soonto-be-born child, that incentiviz­e her to comply with her conditions of release,” the motion said.

Prosecutor­s in their filing countered that Holmes claims do “not account for her attempt to flee the country shortly after she was convicted,” arguing that “the incentive to flee has never been higher and (she) has the means to act on that incentive.” They added that

Holmes has asked Davila to ease her restrictio­ns so she can travel outside northern California and possibly out of the state “due to her significan­t other's employment.”

The prosecutio­n sought in their filing to use Holmes' life and lifestyle against her. “While facing these serious felony charges at trial and awaiting the Court's sentence, (Holmes) has lived on an estate with reportedly more than $13,000 in monthly expenses for upkeep and has conceived two children with her current partner,” the filing said. “There are not two systems of justice — one for the wealthy and one for the poor — there is one criminal justice system in this country. And under that system, the time has come for Elizabeth Holmes to answer for her crimes committed nearly a decade ago.”

Former Santa Clara County prosecutor Steven Clark, after reading the filing, said it appeared prosecutio­n's patience with Holmes was wearing thin. “They're concerned that she's spending time in a mansion and not in custody. They're really questionin­g the fairness of all of this and I think their frustratio­n was manifest,” Clark said.

The bail conditions Holmes was under at the time of her alleged flight attempt are sealed by the court, but would certainly have prohibited travel outside the country without permission from a court officer or judge, Clark said.

Any judge deciding whether to let someone remain free on bail while they appeal would have concerns about a one-way ticket to Mexico, Clark said.

“It's not like going to the next county or to a wedding in Nevada,” Clark said. “You're talking about a major potential of not returning. Certainly she has access to resources to live sort of under the radar … or in another jurisdicti­on that may not honor our extraditio­n.

“I don't know that it necessaril­y suggests that she was planning on fleeing if things went the wrong way (but) I can understand the government still being concerned about it.”

Clark said he'd never heard of a convicted person making trip plans while facing a substantia­l prison sentence. “You wonder where that unrealisti­c optimism came from,” Clark said.

Prosecutor­s' filing also accused Holmes of posing a danger to the public, saying, her “elaborate fraud scheme” and “lack of remorse and indicated willingnes­s to continue operating in similar fields in the future” mean she can't provide “clear and convincing evidence that she does not present a danger to the community.”

Holmes argued in December that she is not a threat to the public, and noted that prosecutor­s never asked that she be imprisoned immediatel­y, either before or after her conviction.

 ?? DAI SUGANO — STAFF ARCHIVES ?? Elizabeth Holmes' partner Billy Evans, right, left the country in January with a one-way ticket and didn't return for weeks.
DAI SUGANO — STAFF ARCHIVES Elizabeth Holmes' partner Billy Evans, right, left the country in January with a one-way ticket and didn't return for weeks.

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