Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced businesswoman who was convicted of defrauding investors in her botched blood testing startup Theranos, appeared at a federal prison in Texas on Tuesday to begin her 11-year, three-month sentence.
Ms. Holmes turned herself in to FPC Bryan, a minimum-security prison camp for women about 90 minutes from Houston. She pulled up in a Ford Expedition that appeared to be driven by her mother, Noel Holmes. Her father, Christian Holmes, appeared to be inside.
After walking a bit, out of sight of the cameras gathered nearby, Elizabeth Holmes entered the facility dressed in jeans, glasses and a sweater, and carrying some papers. As she entered the prison, a passerby watching from the street called out her name.
FPC Bryan’s 655 inmates must work in the cafeteria or in a manufacturing plant, where wages start at $1.15 an hour, according to the prison handbook. Before starting work at the factory, Ms. Holmes may take a test to assess her strengths in areas such as business, administrative, numerical, logical, mechanical, and “social.” Inmates can also enroll in a “Lean Six Sigma” training program to learn about efficiency.
“We try to help our ladies get factory jobs that focus on their strengths so they can develop additional business skills,” the prison manual says.
Ms Holmes, 39, was convicted last year of four counts of wire fraud and conspiracy for falsely claiming that Theranos blood tests could detect a variety of ailments with just a few drops of blood. She and her former business partner, Ramesh Balwani, must together pay $452 million in restitution to investors who were defrauded. Ms. Holmes appealed her case, although her requests to stay out of jail during the appeal were denied.
Ms. Holmes founded Theranos in 2003 after dropping out of Stanford University at age 19. The company raised $950 million in funding, making it a billionaire on paper. Theranos collapsed in 2018. Ms Holmes and Mr Balwani were indicted that year.
The couple was tried separately. Mr. Balwani was convicted of 12 counts of fraud and is serving a sentence of nearly 13 years in federal prison in San Pedro, California. He also appealed his case.
Ms. Holmes’s phrase was meant to send a message to others in Silicon Valley: There are consequences when ambitious startup founders embrace a ethos known as “fake it ’til you make it,” when entrepreneurs talk ambitiously about what they their companies can do. even if companies can’t do those things yet, too far. Despite the tech industry’s long history of stretching the rules, as entrepreneurs invent new businesses and disrupt old ones, few have gone to prison for lying.
Since her conviction, Ms. Holmes has been living in a San Diego rental home near the family of Billy Evans, who is the father of her two children. During her trial, held in San Jose, California, Ms. Holmes and Mr. Evans lived in a house in the Green Gables groundsa $135 million property in the wealthy city of Woodside.
Her two young children, William and Invicta, will be able to video chat with Ms. Holmes and visit her on weekends and federal holidays. Phone calls are limited to 15 minutes each, for a total of 300 minutes per month.
In FPC Bryan, Ms. Holmes, known for wearing black turtlenecks to imitate Steve Jobs while running Theranos and, during her trial, sporting sporty heels, form-fitting dresses and a diaper bag, will wear khaki pants and pastel green shirts , gray and pastel green. or white with athletic shoes not to exceed $100 in value.
You will not have Internet access, but you can purchase a radio ($31.75) or an MP3 player ($88.40) at the commissary. All music must be “non-explicit,” according to the prison manual.
FPC Bryan offers entertainment activities that include music shows, “board games” and movies, according to its manual. Arts and crafts are available, including beading, weaving, paper art, crochet, and ceramics. A crochet hook is $1.30 and yarn is $3.55 at the FPC Bryan commissary, according to the manual.
Inmates have access to an outdoor “recreation yard pavilion,” but must return to their dormitories for head counts that occur five times every 24 hours.
Forgery or falsification of documents and conducting business are against the rules. Ms. Holmes admitted to forging pharmaceutical reports to solicit investors while testifying at her trial.
Other inmates at the prison camp include Jen Shah, a “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star who is serving a five-and-a-half-year sentence for telemarketing-related wire fraud. in a blog post In March about her first days in prison, Ms. Shah described the difficulties operating the phone system, which uses account numbers, noting that not many people were friendly. Breakfast consisted of instant oatmeal, an apple and a slice of wheat bread with jam, she wrote.
Lea Fastow, a former executive at the collapsed energy company Enron, was jailed for tax fraud at FPC Bryan for 11 months in the mid-2000s. Jenna Ryan, a participant in the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol ., spent 60 days there. And Michelle Janavs, the daughter of a Hot Pockets co-founder, served five months in prison for her association with the “Operation Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal.
Three inmates escaped from FPC Bryan in 2017. One of them, Edith Lara, who was serving time on drug charges, has not been found, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.
annie mulligan contributed reporting from Bryan, Texas.