Prosecutors Requesting 15-year Sentence For Ex-Theranos President Balwani

U.S. prosecutors are asking a federal judge in California to sentence former Theranos President Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani to 15 years in prison for defrauding patients and investors in the blood-testing startup once led by the infamous Elizabeth Holmes.

Balwani TheranosPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

Balwani protested that possible sentence by claiming probation should be sufficient in rectifying his wrongdoing. He cited his his own investment losses in the company once valued at $9 billion, and saying he never sought the “fame or media attention” that Holmes drew as Theranos’ public face.

The recommendations were filed Wednesday evening in a federal court in San Jose, California, where U.S. District Judge Edward Davila will sentence Balwani on Dec. 7.

Holmes was sentenced to 11-1/4 years in prison for her role in the scheme in November, describing Theranos as a once-exciting venture “dashed by untruths, misrepresentations, plain hubris and lies.”

She was convicted in January on four counts of fraud and conspiracy but acquitted of defrauding patients, while Balwani was convicted earlier the same month on all 12 fraud and conspiracy counts he faced.

Prosecutors are also seeking a court order demanding Balwani pay $803.8 million to cover losses by investors including Walgreens, Safeway and the late U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz – a sum which they acknowledge he does not have.

Holmes and Balwani were convicted of deceiving patients and investors about Theranos’ technology, which once offered hope that a wider array of medical diagnostic tests could be performed with just a few drops of blood.

Prosecutors stated Balwani deserved a lengthier sentence than Holmes because his offenses, specifically the conspiracy to defraud patients with inaccurate blood test results, showed a “conscious or reckless risk of death or serious bodily injury.”

Balwani’s defense claimed there is absolutely no likelihood he will commit another crime, and that he played a “demonstrably” smaller role than Holmes in the transgressions underlying his conviction.

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