Theranos trial: legal saga reaches final chapter as Sunny Balwani faces verdict | Theranos

Sunny Balwani, the former Theranos director and romantic partner of Elizabeth Holmes, could face a verdict this week on charges that he has deceived the company’s investors and patients, bringing the final chapter of the Theranos lawsuit to an end.

Lawyers in the case began the final arguments in the trial Tuesday in a courtroom in San Jose, California. After both parties rest their cases, juries will begin the discussions. Balwani risks up to 20 years in prison for similar charges as those raised against his alleged accomplice, Holmes, whose case was settled in January this year.

Throughout Balwani’s trial, which began in March, federal prosecutors have portrayed him as an accomplice in a fraud hatched by Holmes, his secret lover at the time. In return, his lawyers portrayed him as a loyal soldier trying to save the blood test company.

“Mr Balwani is not a victim. He is the perpetrator of the scam,” prosecutor Jeffrey Schenk said at the end of his three-and-a-half-hour closing argument Tuesday.

Jeffrey Coopersmith, one of the lawyers representing Balwani, painted his client as a tireless leader who “put his money where his mouth is” by putting about $ 15 million of his own fortune in Theranos between 2009 and 2011 because he believed in Holmes’ vision.

In addition to his financial commitment, Balwani joined the blood test startup as operations manager in 2010, while secretly living with Holmes. In his own trial, Holmes accused Balwani of abuse and of having influenced her role in deceiving customers and investors.

“Mr. Balwani put his heart and soul into Theranos,” Coopersmith said as he began his concluding argument. Coopersmith later pointed out that Balwani was such an ardent supporter of Holmes and Theranos that he never sold his stake in the company, even though at one point it was worth $ 500 million. It became worthless when the company collapsed.

The duel presentations were among the icing on the cake of a three-month trial that will determine whether Balwani will face a verdict similar to the Holmes case, where the jury spent seven days in deliberations before being convicted of four counts of investor fraud.

Coopersmith will continue his closing defense of Balwani on Wednesday, and then prosecutors will have a chance to present a rebuttal before U.S. District Judge Edward Davila reads his final instructions and sends the jury into its deliberations.

Holmes, 38, is due to be sentenced later this year and risks up to 20 years in prison. It’s an astonishing turn from the way she was once hailed in Silicon Valley as a technological visionary who developed a revolutionary blood test technology – one that was once worth an estimated $ 4.5 billion.

Balwani, 57, is accused of having deceived the same Theranos investors as Holmes, as well as having tricked patients who have entrusted the analysis of their health into a blood test technology that did not work as promised. Holmes was acquitted of the charges that accused her of deceiving patients who had their blood tested by Theranos.

Holmes and Balwani began dating around the same time she dropped out of Stanford University at age 19 to start Theranos when he was 38. The two later claimed to have discovered a way to test for more than 200 potential health problems with just a few drops of blood. They broke up in 2016 when Theranos collapsed amid revelations of serious flaws in the technology.

In a slide detailing the criminal charges, the prosecution included a picture of Balwani along with Holmes with the contents of a July 2015 text he sent to her. “I am responsible for everything on Theranos,” Balwani wrote to Holmes. “Everyone has been my decisions, too.”

Schenk also stressed Balwani’s responsibility for overseeing Theranos’ blood test lab as part of an attempt to prove he threatened patients. In a 2014 text to Holmes, Balwani described the Theranos laboratory as a “disaster zone” that included a profane description because there were so many problems.

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