Blood and Punishment: Former Theranos President Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani Begins 13-Year Prison Sentence
- The surrender, a week before his ex-girlfriend and founder Elizabeth Holmes, comes after an appeals court rejected the Indian American’s bid to remain free.
The years-long Theranos saga is finally coming to an end. Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, the former chief operating officer of Theranos, has reported to prison, despite desperate bids to avoid it. His ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth Holmes, founder of the failed startup, is set to start her jail term on April 27.
Balwani’s attorney Jeffrey Coopersmith told media outlets that his client “turned himself in … smoothly without incident,” adding however that “we will continue to fight for him because we do not believe that he received a fair trial.”
The 57-year-old Indian American was sentenced to almost 13 years in December for his role in a blood-testing hoax he orchestrated with Holmes. The couple “risked patients by misrepresenting the accuracy of the company’s blood analysis technology that defrauded investors of millions of dollars,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California.
The surrender comes after “an appeals court rejected his bid to remain free,” the Associated Press reported. The news agency further reported that Coopersmith proposed that his client report to prison on April 20 “in a motion filed with U.S. District Judge Edward Davila, who presided over Balwani’s trial last year and imposed his sentence in December.”
Balwani was employed with Theranos from September 2009 through July 2016 and held positions of a board member, chief operating officer and president. He and Holmes were charged in 2018. According to the indictment unsealed on June 15, 2018, the pair had engaged in a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud investors and a separate scheme to defraud doctors and patients, and both schemes entailed promotion.
He has been trying to delay his prison sentence for the past few months. He filed a memo, in February, fighting the $900 million restitution order the government is seeking for investors, legal news service Law360 has reported. In a memo filed on Feb. 10, he told a California federal judge that the restitution order is “beyond anyone’s ability to pay.” He said the calculation is “plagued” by several errors.
In January, he asked the court to let him stay out of prison as he appeals his sentence for defrauding investors and patients, arguing he does not pose a flight risk or a danger to the community. Federal prosecutors strongly opposed the request, pointing to his family abroad as a means and motive for him to flee.
Holmes and Balwani were charged in 2018. According to the indictment unsealed on June 15, 2018, the pair had engaged in a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud investors and a separate scheme to defraud doctors and patients, and both schemes entailed promotion.
Holmes had founded Theranos in 2003 as a 19-year-old college dropout and was hailed and celebrated as a Silicon Valley whiz-kid. The company was aiming to revolutionize medical laboratory testing through allegedly innovative methods for drawing blood, testing blood, and interpreting the resulting patient data to improve outcomes and lower healthcare costs.
He met Holmes in 2002 during a Beijing trip as part of Stanford University’s Mаndаrin program. They didn’t start dаting until 2003 when he earned his MBA аnd she dropped out to pursue Therаnos. In 2005, the couple shаred а home.
During her testimony, Holmes accused Balwani of emotionally and sexually abusing her, which apparently compromised her judgment during the time of the alleged crimes.
Holmes made the accusations during her much-anticipated testimony on Nov. 29, 2021. in an attempt to refute accusations that she lied about a flawed blood-testing technology, which she had touted as a breakthrough. She blamed Balwani for allegedly exploiting, using and misleading her.