Former Theranos executive Sunny Balwani set to be sentenced for his role in company's fraud

  • In US
  • 2022-12-07 17:24:55Z
  • By NBC News

Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, the former business partner of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, will be sentenced Wednesday for his role in the disgraced blood-test company's years-long fraud.

U.S. prosecutors have recommended Balwani, 58, receive at least 15 years in prison after he was convicted in July on 12 counts of fraud.

That would be a harsher sentence than what Holmes received last month.

Theranos, which promised that its technology could quickly test for a range health conditions with just a pin-prick of blood, raised hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and attracted high-profile board members before collapsing after a series of investigative reporting that cast doubt on the company's viability.

As Theranos' president and chief operating officer, Balwani had direct oversight over the company's labs, where some of the most egregious examples of misconduct occurred. During Balwani's trial, prosecutors called witnesses who said Theranos' inaccurate blood tests caused real-world harm.

"Mr. Balwani knew that Theranos was not generating, and would not generate, any meaningful revenue by being honest with people," U.S. Attorney Jeff Schenk said. "So he chose a different path."

Text messages released during the trial confirmed Balwani's outsized role.

"I am responsible for everything at Theranos," Balwani wrote in a 2015 text message to Holmes. "All have been my decisions too."

Balwani's defense team said the former software executive had acted in good faith.

"He believed, and had every reason to believe, in the world-class scientific team at Theranos and the technology they developed," attorney Jeffrey Coopersmith said.

Holmes and Balwani were also romantic partners for much of the company's history, something the pair tried to keep secret from employees. As she mounted her defense, Holmes attempted to portray herself as a victim of Balwani's abuse. Balwani has denied those claims.

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