Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, the former Theranos president and ex-boyfriend of disgraced founder Elizabeth Holmes, has begun serving his 13-year prison sentence for defrauding investors in the failed blood-testing startup.
Balwani, 57, self-surrendered Thursday to the FCI Terminal Island prison in San Pedro, California.
A San Jose jury found Balwani guilty in July on 12 federal criminal fraud charges for scamming investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars in an elaborate scheme with Holmes.
Holmes, 37, was convicted in January 2022 of one charge of conspiracy and three charges of fraud for her role in the scam. She is set to report to prison next week to begin serving her 11.25-year sentence.
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The co-defendants and former lovers were indicted on criminal fraud charges in 2018, but were tried separately in trials both overseen by U.S. District Judge Edward Davila.
Davila denied both Holmes and Balwani’s multiple requests for new trials. Both have maintained their innocence throughout their respective court proceedings, and Holmes is currently appealing her case with the Ninth Circuit.
Holmes launched Theranos in 2003 at the age of 19 after dropping out of Stanford University. She dazzled Silicon Valley and investors alike with claims that she had developed a revolutionary technology that could diagnose upwards of 200 diseases with just a few drops of a patient’s blood.
Balwani became Theranos’ chief operating officer in 2010, serving as Holmes’ deputy and pouring $15 million of his own funds into the business. The pair had dated for years before he joined the company, but kept their romance a secret.
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Investors poured more than $900 million into Theranos, making Holmes a billionaire on paper at the company’s peak. But things began to unravel in 2015 after The Wall Street Journal exposed that Theranos was actually using traditional blood-testing machines for testing rather than its own technology.
The next year, Holmes dumped Balwani both as her business partner and lover. The company shuttered in 2018, the same year both of them were indicted.
During her trial, Holmes took the stand and pointed blame at Balwani, saying that he mislead her about the effectiveness of Theranos’ technology. She also accused him of emotional and sexual abuse, claims which he denied.
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Balwani did not speak in his own defense during his trial, where his attorneys portrayed him as a benevolent investor who became wrapped up in Holmes’ scheme. Prosecutors argued that Balwani was an active participant in the fraud, who assisted Holmes in duping investors.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.