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Sunny Balwani sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison for Theranos fraud

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A federal judge has sentenced Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, 58, to nearly 13 years in federal prison for fraud related to the defunct blood-testing startup Theranos, which promised to perform more than 200 medical tests with just a few drops of blood despite its technology never working properly.

Balwani, who served as Theranos’ chief operating officer, was convicted of all 12 counts of fraud in a unanimous verdict in July. Unlike Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes, Balwani was convicted of defrauding investors and patients. Holmes’ conviction on four counts of fraud only related to defrauding investors; she was acquitted of counts related to defrauding patients.

Holmes and Balwani, who were previously romantic partners, were co-conspirators in Theranos’ fraud and were indicted together four years ago. However, US District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California, separated their cases in 2020.

During Holmes’ trial, she testified that she suffered sexual, physical, and emotional abuse from Balwani. The two met in 2002 during a language-immersion program in China, while Holmes was an 18-year-old senior in high school and Balwani was in his late 30s pursuing a master’s degree. Their subsequent decade-long relationship occurred in the background as they started Theranos.

Last month, Holmes was sentenced to 11 years and three months for her role in the fraud. Last Friday, she filed notice that she was appealing her case, despite legal experts saying she has slim chances of overturning her conviction.

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Federal prosecutors had sought 15 years for Balwani and an order that he pay $804 million in restitution. Balwani’s legal team, meanwhile, requested that he only get probation.

In the sentencing today, Davila found that Theranos’ premise was promising, but Balwani knew of its lies and fraud and chose to go forward with the deception.

Davila sentenced Balwani to 155 months—12 years and 11 months—in federal prison with three years of probation. He is ordered to surrender to the US Bureau of Prisons on March 15, 2023.

Source: Ars Technica

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