Sunny Balwani gets a tougher sentence than Elizabeth Holmes

Fraud trial against Theranos Deputy Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani starts in San Jose

Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, former Chief Operating Officer of Theranos, goes through a security check as he arrives at Robert F. Peckham U.S. Federal Courthouse March 16, 2022 in San Jose, California.

Former manager of Theranos Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani was sentenced Wednesday to almost 13 years in prison and gets more time than his co-defendant and former girlfriend Elizabeth Holmes. He also received an earlier reporting date.

Balwani was in a romantic relationship with Holmes when they promoted Theranos as a company with revolutionary technology capable of performing any conventional lab blood test using a machine and a small sample of blood.

His trial didn’t spark the international media frenzy that Holmes’ trial drew in federal court in San Jose, California, but it ended with convictions on 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy.

Prosectors had asked US district judges Edward J Davila sentence Balwani to 180 months, or 15 years, while Balwani’s lawyer asked the judge for parole. Holmes has accused Balwani of abuse, testify: “He was very angry with me and then sometimes he would come upstairs to our bedroom and force me to have sex with him when I didn’t want to because he wanted me to know that he still loves me.”

But Balwani’s lawyers told Davila that the allegations “cannot play a role in his conviction”. The parole officer who questioned Balwani did not mention the allegations in the prejudice report, which is not public, and Balwani’s attorneys said “these explosive allegations are hearsay.”

“The fact that Ms Holmes testified at her own trial about aspects of this does not cure the hearsay applied to Mr Balwani as he was not given an opportunity to cross-examine her,” reads a footnote to the November 30 judgment memorandum out Jeffrey B Coopersmith by Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.

The memo said Balwani “did not found Theranos” and was never its “major shareholder.”

“He did not invent the blood testing technology that drove the company’s promise,” the memo said. “And he didn’t have the last word on Theranos’ strategy. When he arrived in 2009, the company had been in operation for six years and had already attracted a prominent board of directors.”

However, prosecutors said Balwani’s family upbringing “and qualities lend themselves to a substantial prison sentence.”

“Balwani, with strong family support, exceptional educational opportunities and financial stability, repeatedly chose to cheat,” said the memo. “Balwani’s history and characteristics are aggravating factors which should prompt this court to impose a substantial sentence.”

Balwani worked at Theranos from September 2009 to July 2016 and endorsed false and misleading statements about the company that led investors to believe that Theranos had viable and revolutionary blood testing technology.

Text messages shown at the trial include one in which Holmes tells him, “You are the breeze in the desert to me” and calls him “my water” and ocean, adding, “Intended only to.” be, tiger.”

Balwani replied, “OK.”

Davila sentenced Holmes to 135 months in prison on November 18, that’s 11 years and three months. He ordered her to appear in court by April 27, even though her attorneys had asked the judge to allow her to leave prison as she is appealing her conviction in the US 9th Circuit. They argue that she poses neither a public safety threat nor a combat risk, and they cite her “strong bonds with her partner and family, including her son and soon-to-be child.”

Davila has not decided on the application yet.

Balwani, meanwhile, is scheduled to report to prison on March 15.

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