Former Theranos COO Found Guilty on Federal Fraud Charges

Emma Richardson

ACFE Research Specialist

On Thursday, a jury of seven women and five men convicted Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani on 12 counts of federal fraud. Balwani, the former COO of Theranos, reportedly sat expressionless as the verdicts were read in court. Some of the charges Balwani was found guilty of included federal wire fraud and conspiracy to commit federal wire fraud.

The conclusion to Balwani’s trial marks a noticeably different outcome from that of his former Theranos counterpart and one-time lover Elizabeth Holmes, who herself was found guilty on just four fraud charges in a separate trial earlier this year. Unlike Holmes, Balwani was convicted on all the counts he was charged with; Holmes, conversely, was convicted on just four counts of wire fraud, but acquitted on four counts of defrauding patients. The jury in Holmes’s trial was also unable to reach a verdict on three of the seven charges related to defrauding investors that were rendered against her.

Balwani, 57, faces up to 20 years in prison, as well as a $250,000 fine plus restitution for each count of fraud. His sentencing is expected to take place in November, with Holmes’s set for September.

The convictions of both Holmes and Balwani make for a rare victory in the fight against fraud among Silicon Valley start-ups. Though the Theranos case is exceptionally high-profile and well-known, the splintered convictions in the Holmes trial show how difficult it can be to convince a jury of a defendant’s fraudulent intent. Even Balwani’s case was deliberated by jurors for four days before a verdict was reached. It’s worth noting that Balwani’s personal likeability, or lack thereof, might have played a role in landing him a stronger slew of convictions than Holmes, given that she testified in her own trial that Balwani verbally and sexually abused her during their relationship; allegations that his lawyer has denied.

In a statement submitted to CNN Business, Balwani’s attorney Jeffrey Coopersmith advised that he and his team plan to explore options for appeal.

SOURCE: ACFE Insights – A Publication of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners