Dec 7 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Wednesday sentenced former Theranos Inc President Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani to 12 years and 11 months in prison on charges of defrauding investors and patients of the blood-testing startup led by Elizabeth Holmes, a spokeswoman for The United States Attorney’s Office confirmed.
U.S. District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California, imposed the sentence on Balwani, who was convicted by a jury of two counts of conspiracy and 10 counts of wire fraud in July.
Prosecutors said Balwani, 57, conspired with Holmes, 38, to deceive Silicon Valley investors into believing the company had achieved miniaturized machines that could accurately run a wide range of medical diagnostic tests from a small amount of blood.
Meanwhile, the company secretly relied on traditional methods to run tests and gave patients inaccurate results, prosecutors said.
Holmes, who started the company as a student and became its public face, was indicted along with Balwani, her former romantic partner, in 2018.
Davila later granted each a separate trial after Holmes said she would take the stand and testify that Balwani was abusive in their relationship. He has denied the charges.
Holmes was convicted in January of four counts of fraud and conspiracy, but acquitted of defrauding patients.
Davila sentenced Holmes to 11-1/4 years in prison at a hearing last month, calling Theranos a venture “spread by falsehoods, misrepresentations, sheer hubris and lies.”
Prosecutors later argued that Balwani should receive 15 years in prison, saying he knew Theranos’ tests were inaccurate from overseeing the company’s laboratory operations and decided to “prioritize Theranos’ financial health over the real health of patients.”
The Probation Office had recommended a nine-year sentence.
Balwani’s lawyers asked for probation, arguing that he was trying to make the world a better place through Theranos and was not motivated by fame or greed.
Once valued at $9 billion, Theranos promised to revolutionize how patients receive diagnoses by replacing traditional labs with tiny machines envisioned for use in homes, pharmacies and even on the battlefield.
The company collapsed after a series of Wall Street Journal articles in 2015 questioned the technology.
The case is US v. Balwani, US District Court, Northern District of California, No. 18-cr-00258.
Reporting by Jody Godoy in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Bill Berkrot
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