A San Diego Hotel Company's Close Ties To Disgraced Theranos "Fraud" Elizabeth Holmes

September 30, 2021

With the trial of disgraced Theranos blood test company founder Elizabeth Holmes currently underway, we explore her ties to the powerful and deeply-rooted San Diego family behind some of the city's most desirable hotels.  

Elizabeth Holmes, who founded now-dissolved Theranos in 2003 at age 19, once graced the covers of magazines in which she was heralded as "the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire" and "the next Steve Jobs". She had raised billions of dollars to fund the rollout of a blood testing machine that was advertised as being able to perform over 100 different medical tests with just a prick of the finger and a few drops of blood. 

It turned out that Holmes was running a shoddy operation, allegedly misleading investors and the government with baseless promises and fraudulent technology. Her blood test machines didn't work, and Theranos was actually using commercially available machines made by other manufacturers for most of its testing. After being indicted in June 2018 on nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for distributing blood tests with falsified results to consumers, the trial in the case of U.S. v. Holmes, et al. began last month and is currently underway. If convicted, Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for her role in alleged widespread deceit that took place from 2010 to 2016.  

The man that called himself "Hanson" talking to reporters.
During the first days of jury selection at Holmes's federal fraud trial, a man describing himself as "concerned citizen interested in the trial" and calling himself "Hanson" reportedly piqued the curiosity of reporters by frequently chatting with media members. The man allegedly claimed to be a "car enthusiast" who was attending the trial as "a media watchdog". It turned out the mystery man was identified to be William "Bill" L. Evans, the father of Holmes' husband and heir to San Diego-based Evans Hotels company.    

Founded in 1953 by William L. Evans' parents, William D. & Anne, Evans Hotels owns and operates The Bahia Resort Hotel in Mission Beach, the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa in Pacific Beach, and The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, as well as two sternwheeler boats that ferry to and from between the company's Mission Bay hotels. In addition to being a hotel magnate, Bill L. Evans owns one of the most exclusive private antique and classic car collections in the country. He has also sat on important regional boards, including being a former District Chairman for the San Diego Tourism Marketing board; a past board member of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce; headed the Convention Center Corporation Board of Directors for a period; was a board member and past president of the San Diego Hotel-Motel Association; was past President of the Mission Bay Lessees Association; and served on the boards of both the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau and the San Diego Historical Society. It is reported that Evans Hotels estimated annual revenue is currently $180.6 million per year.

"Today much of the success of the City's tourism industry can be traced back to that mudflat in Mission Bay where two young hoteliers saw the future," reads the About Us page on Evans Hotels website. "Now Anne Evans and her adult children, Bill Evans and Grace Evans Cherashore, continue to lead one of Southern California’s true success stories in tourism entrepreneurship and its hopes for continued success in the future."

Bill's son Billy Evans, age 29,  reportedly married Elizabeth Holmes, age 37, in a private ceremony at some point in 2019. The couple shares a newborn son who was born this past July. Some have speculated the timing of Elizabeth's pregnancy was intended to delay her trial and garner sympathy from the jury. It has been reported that Holmes and Evans have been living on a home at the 74-acre, century-old Green Gables estate currently listed for sale for $135 million, located in Woodside, CA, in the Silicon Valley area. 

"He [Evans] is a trust fund baby and has a lot of money, and he's probably helping out with the legal bills because Elizabeth's family doesn't have money either," surmised host Nick Bilton on his Vanity Fair podcast Inside The Hive in June 2019. "Holmes is going to get pregnant before she gets on the stand because she'll look very sympathetic as a pregnant woman on the stand."

Elizabeth Holmes' strategy at trial is expected to rely heavily on a "Svengali defense," essentially trying to convince the jury her actions were forced by former Theranos executive and Holmes' ex-boyfriend Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani. Balwani is facing the same federal criminal charges as Holmes but is being tried separately, likely due to the conflicts in each of their respective defense strategies. 

For those looking to learn more about Elizabeth Holmes and the allegations against Theranos, there are several documentaries, podcasts and books available, including The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley documentary on HBO, The Drop Out podcast, Bad Blood: The Final Chapter podcast, and the book Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by Wall Street Journal correspondent John Carreyrou, who was integral in blowing the Theranos scandal wide open in 2015

We reached out to William L. Evans and Evans Hotels Chief Marketing Officer Ilsa Butler for comment to include in this article but did not receive a response by the time of publishing. Following the sharing of information about the connection between Elizabeth Holmes and Evans Hotels on the SanDiegoVille Instagram account, our profile was blocked by the Instagram pages for Catamaran Resort & Spa, The Lodge at Torrey Pines and Bahia Resort.