Elizabeth Holmes Argues for Delay of 11-Year Prison Sentence, While Risks of Maternal Separation Loom

Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes returned to court on Friday to argue her case for delaying her 11-year prison sentence pending appeal, and avoiding paying hundreds of millions of dollars to the victims of her massive fraud.[0] Prosecutors, however, have argued that the 38-year-old Woodside woman is a flight risk due to a one-way plane ticket to Mexico that Holmes booked days after a jury found her guilty in January 2022.[1] The flight was to attend a friend’s wedding, however, Holmes allegedly canceled the ticket after it was noticed and called out by prosecutors.[2]

At the hearing, defense lawyer Amy Mason Saharia argued that Holmes is not a flight risk, noting that she has two young children and family support in the United States.[3] She further argued that the trial record is “teeming with issues” that will likely “catch the Ninth Circuit’s attention.”

Meanwhile, Holmes’ co-conspirator and former lover, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, filed a last-minute motion in the Ninth Circuit, asking the court to intervene and allow him to remain free while the appeal is pending.[2] According to the Ninth Circuit regulations, Balwani’s surrender date is automatically suspended until the bail matter is resolved.[4]

Judge Edward Davila is expected to issue a ruling in early April on whether Holmes should pay restitution and delay the start of her 11-year sentence. Meanwhile, experts point to a blind spot in the prison system: the routine separation of new mothers from their babies.[5] Currently, nearly nine out of 10 fathers in prison report that their child’s mother is the primary caregiver, but for women behind bars, almost half of whom are single mothers, their child is more likely to be sent to live with a grandparent or placed in the foster care system.[5] For a lot of these women, the split is permanent.[6]

Holmes is scheduled to turn herself in to federal prison in April, nearly six months after a jury convicted her of fraud.[6]

0. “Judge to decide in April whether to delay prison for Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes” New Hampshire Public Radio, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.nhpr.org/2023-03-17/judge-to-decide-in-april-whether-to-delay-prison-for-theranos-founder-elizabeth-holmes

1. “Elizabeth Holmes says she won’t flee before prison” msnNOW, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/elizabeth-holmes-says-she-won-t-flee-before-prison/ar-AA18LZbn

2. “Judge In Elizabeth Holmes Case Says He’ll Rule on Prison Delay, Restitution Next Month” SFist, 17 Mar. 2023, https://sfist.com/2023/03/17/judge-in-elizabeth-holmes-case-says-hell-rule-on-prison-delay-restitution-next-month/

3. “Prosecutors fight Elizabeth Holmes’ attempt to remain free during her appeal for massive Theranos fraud” Law & Crime, 17 Mar. 2023, https://lawandcrime.com/high-profile/prosecutors-fight-elizabeth-holmes-attempt-to-remain-free-during-her-appeal-for-massive-theranos-fraud/

4. “Judge hears Elizabeth Holmes’ request to remain free while appeal resolved” Palo Alto Online, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2023/03/17/judge-hears-elizabeth-holmes-request-to-remain-free-while-appeal-resolved

5. “The prison experience Elizabeth Holmes is desperate to avoid” BBC, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-64970156

6. “Should Being a New Mom Keep Elizabeth Holmes Out of Prison?” The Marshall Project, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.themarshallproject.org/2023/03/16/elizabeth-holmes-sentence-theranos-prison-mothers