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Former Theranos COO Sunny Balwani sentenced to 12 years and 11 months in prison

It follows an 11-year sentence for Elizabeth Holmes.
Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, former president and chief operating officer (COO) of Theranos and ex-boyfriend of founder Elizabeth Holmes, leaves after the opening day of his federal trial for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud was postponed due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) exposure in the courtroom in San Jose, California, U.S. March 16, 2022.  REUTERS/Brittany Hosea-Small
Brittany Hosea-Small / reuters
Karissa Bell
Karissa Bell|@karissabe|December 7, 2022 5:45 PM

Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, Theranos’ former chief operating officer, has been sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison. Balwani was found guilty of all charges in a trial earlier this year that charged him with defrauding the blood testing startup’s patients and investors.

Of note, his sentence is slightly longer than the 11 years and three months given to Elizabeth Holmes, the former CEO of Theranos. Ahead of his sentencing, Balwani’s legal team had asked for probation or house arrest, The Wall Street Journal reported. A probation officer had recommended a nine-year sentence, while prosecutors wanted 15 years in prison.

Balwani will also have to pay restitution, though the amount hasn't yet been set. He is due to surrender March 15th.

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Unlike Holmes, who was not convicted on seven out of 11 total fraud charges in her trial, Balwani was convicted of defrauding Theranos patients in addition to the company’s wealthy investors. As COO, Balwani oversaw the operations of the company’s troubled laboratory, and prosecutors argued that he had detailed knowledge of problems with its blood tests, and the risk they posed to patients.

Though Balwani never rose to the same level of fame as his former partner during his time at Theranos, his relationship with Holmes has played heavily into the intrigue surrounding the company’s downfall. Holmes and Balwani’s relationship featured prominently in The Dropout, a Hulu miniseries about Theranos, and text messages between the two were read aloud in both trials. 

Balwani was also a major part of Holmes' defense. During her trial, she testified that Balwani had been abusive during their romantic relationship, and that had misled her about issues in the company’s lab. Balwani didn't testify at his trial or speak during his sentencing hearing. 

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Former Theranos COO Sunny Balwani sentenced to 12 years and 11 months in prison