The former COO of disgraced blood testing startup Theranos, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani was sentenced to 155 months, or about 13 years, in prison, and three years of probation. After a three-month trial, Balwani was found guilty on all 12 felony prices, starting from defrauding patients and investors to conspiring to commit fraud. Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes was convicted on four of these charges and was sentenced to 11.25 years in prison final month.
Despite the disparate outcomes from the 2 separate juries in two particular person trials, Judge Ed Davila calculated Holmes’ and Balwani’s sentencing ranges to be precisely the identical: 135 to 168 months, or 11.25 to 14 years. In both instances, prosecutor Jeff Schenk countered by asking for 15 years.
Balwani’s attorneys tried to argue that he ought to get a extra lenient sentence than Holmes, as he was not CEO.
“He’s not Ms. Holmes. He did not pursue fame and fortune,” said Balwani’s legal professional Jeffrey Coopersmith.
Judge Davila even noted that the court docket noticed one other aspect of Balwani after they have been advised about his charitable giving, a few of which occurred after Theranos. Yet Balwani nonetheless acquired a extreme sentence of 13 years.
Holmes and Balwani have been supposed to be tried for fraud collectively, however the former CEO filed for a separate trial, stating that Balwani, who’s 20 years her senior, had emotionally and sexually abused her throughout their lengthy romantic relationship. Though the court docket was not ruling on these allegations, the choose granted the request.
Throughout the trial, Balwani’s attorneys tried to make the case that regardless that he was an investor and government at Theranos, he was not concerned in key decision-making. The protection failed to argue for his innocence, although. In one piece of proof, the jury was offered a textual content from Balwani to Holmes that learn, “I am responsible for everything at Theranos.”
Balwani’s trial featured the identical proof that indicted Holmes. The prosecution targeted on a key piece of proof relating to Theranos’ relationship with Walgreens. The biotech startup’s defective expertise made its approach into 41 Walgreens shops, however unbeknownst to the pharmacy large, many of the exams have been carried out on third-party tools. Theranos’ personal machines couldn’t produce correct check outcomes, so quite a lot of patients had blood drawn not with a finger prick however intravenously. So, Walgreens mainly spent $140 million in its partnership with Theranos, solely for the startup to use the identical outdated tech that was already in use.
Despite claims to the opposite, a Walgreens government testified that he labored intently with Balwani on the deal. The prosecution additionally displayed proof of a textual content from Balwani to Holmes stating that he intentionally didn’t inform Walgreens that they have been utilizing totally different machines.
For patients that have been unfortunate sufficient to have their blood examined with Theranos’ expertise, some acquired wildly inaccurate outcomes that precipitated vital disruption to their lives. In one case, a mom with a historical past of miscarriages was wrongly informed that she would have one other unsuccessful being pregnant. Another affected person, Erin Tompkins, used Theranos for its low prices, acquired flagged as HIV-positive, and then lived in limbo for three months till she might afford a second blood check. As it turned out, she didn’t even have HIV. Meanwhile, a affected person named Mehrl Ellsworth was given a false most cancers analysis.
Unlike the jury at Holmes’ trial, the jury at Balwani’s trial held him accountable for defrauding patients, not simply investors.
Before the previous COO’s sentencing listening to, Balwani’s lawyers filed 40 objections to the probation workplace’s pre-sentence investigation report, in accordance to tweets from Law 360 reporter Dorothy Atkins, who was current on the listening to. Judge Davila, who additionally presided over Holmes’ trial, mentioned that solely 4 of these objections have been substantive.
“Usually sentencing hearings are morbid regardless of the crime — like watching a car crash where you watch families and lives being destroyed in real time,” Atkins tweeted from the court docket room. “This one feels more like an accounting class.”
It would definitely not be unprecedented if Balwani decides to enchantment this ruling. After Holmes’ personal sentencing, the previous Theranos CEO advised a California federal choose that she would appeal her conviction. She then requested to keep out of custody whereas her enchantment is into consideration, additionally citing that she is at present pregnant together with her second little one. As it stands, Holmes’ surrender date is April 27, whereas Balwani will report to prison on March 15.