Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, the former Theranos executive who ran the disgraced blood testing company alongside Elizabeth Holmes, was convicted Thursday of fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in federal court, according to several reports, after his ex-business partner and ex-girlfriend was found guilty on similar charges earlier this year.
After a 13-week trial, Balwani was found guilty on all 12 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
The jury deliberated for four days.
Both Holmes and Balwani, who served as president and COO of Theranos, face up to 20 years in prison.
Holmes and Balwani were charged by federal prosecutors at the same time in 2018, but tried separately. Holmes was charged with 11 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and in January, she was found guilty on four counts and not guilty on four counts, with the jury deadlocking on a final three charges. She will face sentencing in September.
Holmes, 38, and Balwani, 57, began dating in 2003 when she dropped out of Stanford to start Theranos, but Balwani did not officially join the company until 2010. Holmes quickly became a startup star on the Silicon Valley tech scene: Theranos got investments from the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Larry Ellison, and former Secretary of State George Shultz served on the company’s board of directors. The company’s breakthrough technology centered around a machine they claimed could complete hundreds of blood tests using just a single drop of blood instead of a full vial. Prosecutors in both trials alleged that Holmes and Balwani were well aware they were lying about the abilities of Theranos’ technology. During Balwani’s trial, prosecutors showed text messages he sent to Holmes, saying “I am responsible for everything at Theranos. All have been my decisions too.” Unlike Holmes, Balwani did not testify in his trial, but his lawyers argued he sincerely believed in Theranos’ tech, noting he invested millions of dollars of his own money into the company. Holmes has accused Balwani of being physically and psychologically abusive during their relationship, claims Balwani has denied.
Balwani and Holmes’ relationship and the rise and fall of Theranos were depicted earlier this year in a popular Hulu series The Dropout, starring Naveen Andrews and Amanda Seyfried as the tech executives.
Jury takes fraud case against Elizabeth Holmes’s ex-partner (Associated Press)
Lawyers Make Final Arguments in Fraud Case Against Former Theranos President (Wall Street Journal)
Theranos Ex-President Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani’s Fraud Case Goes to Jury (Wall Street Journal)