Former Theranos executive Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani received a sentence of 155 months or nearly 13 years in prison for his involvement in the fraud scheme at the blood-testing start-up founded by its former CEO Elizabeth Holmes, as per The Verge.
Last month, Holmes was sentenced to 135 months or more than 11 years in prison after being convicted of defrauding investors about the potential of Theranos’ blood testing device.
Theranos’ CEO, COO Peddled Faulty Technology to Patients, Investors
Theranos promised to revolutionize healthcare, claiming that they could run 240 tests on a single drop of blood, whereas traditional tests required much larger samples.
However, it turned out that Holmes and Balwani peddled faulty technology to patients and investors, according to BBC. They ended up delivering inaccurate health results and squandering millions of dollars.
As the company’s president and chief operating officer (COO), he helped Holmes in deceiving patients and investors.
With this, he became the center of one of the highest-profile white-collar lawsuits in previous years. He served as Holmes’ second-in-command, and with that, he had direct oversight over the company’s labs.
In July, Balwani was convicted of 12 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his role in the Theranos fraud scheme.
The former executive did not speak when he received the sentence after nearly four hours of hearing on Wednesday. According to his lawyers, like Holmes, he plans to file an appeal to the court.
He was found guilty of defrauding patients who used the blood tests in the start-up company. Meanwhile, Theranos’ former CEO was convicted of four counts of fraud.
The two were originally charged together, however; their trials were separated after Balwani was accused by Holmes of emotional and physical abuse during the time that they were in a romantic relationship. This occurred during their time at Theranos.
According to the former CEO of Theranos, his alleged manipulation of her was controlling. She claimed that this affected her business decisions.
Meanwhile, Balwani, who is 19 years her senior, claimed that these allegations thrown at him were false.
Ramesh Balwani Receives Longer Sentence Than Elizabeth Holmes
The sentence that Balwani received was less than the 15 years sought by federal prosecutors. However, it is substantially longer than the four to 10 months sentence sought by his lawyers, according to The Guardian.
The trial, which began in March, lasted for 13 weeks. All throughout, his lawyers depicted him as a tireless worker who “put his money where his mouth is.” This is based on their claim that the executive invested $15 million of his own money into Theranos.
But the prosecutors argued that Balwani steered the company into defrauding patients and investors along with Holmes.
His lawyers had requested that he receives only probation and no prison time. According to them, the executive’s personal investment losses in the blood-testing start-up constituted sufficient punishment.
The lawyers also argued that, unlike Holmes, he did not seek “fame or media attention” when he was part of the company.
But prosecutors urged a sentence of 15 years and $803 million in restitution. They argued that Balwani deserved a longer sentence than Holmes as inaccurate blood tests at Theranos could possibly reckless risk of death or serious bodily injury among patients.