Ramesh Balwani, the former business partner and romantic interest of Elizabeth Holmes, defrauded investors and patients of the blood testing company Theranos, a jury found today.
Balwani, who goes by Sunny, faced 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He was found guilty of all counts and faces up to 20 years in prison for each count.
Holmes was convicted of four counts of fraud against investors in January after a months-long trial. She was found not guilty on charges of defrauding patients.
Balwani joined Theranos in 2009 as president and chief operating officer. He also supervised the company’s labs. Balwani initially met Holmes when she was 18, and they began dating after she’d already started the company. They kept the relationship a secret and split as the company collapsed.
Theranos promised to upend the medical testing industry with a machine that could run dozens of blood tests on a single drop of blood. But an exposé in The Wall Street Journal in 2015 revealed that the tech couldn’t do what it promised, and the company came under scrutiny by federal regulators. The labs shut down in 2016.
Balwani and Holmes were originally charged with fraud together, but a federal judge separated their trials in 2020 after Holmes alleged Balwani had emotionally and sexually abused her. She testified about those accusations during her trial and attempted to shift blame for the problems at Theranos onto him. At Balwani’s trial, his lawyers said that Holmes was in charge of the company. But prosecutors said he also played a significant role in making critical decisions at the company. Along with other evidence, they pointed out a text message from Balwani to Holmes — which read: “I am responsible for everything at Theranos.”
Holmes will be sentenced in September, and Balwani will be sentenced in November.