- Prosecutors and Balwani’s lawyers proposed the delay because of the unexpected lengthy trial of the Theranos Inc. founder, which was scheduled to end the first or second week of December.
There will be a delay in the trial of Sunny Balwani, former president of Theranos Inc., a private health care and life sciences company, and ex-boyfriend of founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes. Balwani’s trial has been postponed to Feb. 15 from Jan. 11, due to the lengthy trial of Holmes, which went on for nearly eight weeks. “U.S prosecutors and Balwani’s lawyers proposed the delay, saying it was warranted ‘in light of the length of the Holmes trial,’ which was scheduled to end the first or second week of December,” Bloomberg reported. Closing arguments in the Holmes trial are set for Dec. 16 and 17 before jury deliberations begin.
Holmes, who’s facing several fraud charges, has 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, 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. Holmes was 18 when she met Balwani, then 38, during a trip to China. She told the court that what began as a professional relationship eventually turned amorous. The two became romantically involved in 2005 before Balwani became the chief operating officer at Theranos, a position he held from 2009 to 2016. They were together for 12 years.
Holmes, now 37, had founded Theranos in 2003 as a 19-year-old college dropout and was hailed and celebrated as a Silicon Valley whiz-kid. The Palo Alto, California-based Theranos 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 health care costs.
Several former employees of Theranos Inc. have testified since the trial began, including Indian American chemist Surekha Gangakhedkar, a former manager of assay systems; Sunil Dhawan, a dermatologist who became Theranos’ lab director in 2014; Nimesh Jhaveri, a former Walgreens executive; and lab director Kingshuk Das. They told the court that Holmes would bully, pressurize, deceive and intimidate her employees, and tried to give federal regulators an “alternative explanation” for two years’ worth of faulty lab results.
Holmes and Balwani were originally charged in June 2018 on two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud. According to the indictment unsealed on June 15, 2018, Holmes and Balwani 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. If convicted, each of them could face 20 years in prison and fines of $250,000, plus restitution, for each count of wire fraud and for each conspiracy count.