Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, the former chief operating officer of failed startup Theranos and ex-boyfriend of founder Elizabeth Holmes, has reported to prison, according to his attorney.
“Mr Balwani turned himself in… smoothly without incident,” Jeffrey Coopersmith, Balwani’s attorney, said in an email to CNN on Thursday. “We will continue to fight for him because we do not believe that he received a fair trial.”
Balwani’s arrival into custody marks an end to a years-long saga which saw him go from serving as a top executive at a high-flying Silicon Valley company to being one of the rare tech executives convicted for fraud.
First indicted nearly five years ago alongside Holmes, Balwani was found guilty last July on all 12 charges he faced, which included ten counts of federal wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He was sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison last December. Balwani’s request to remain out of prison while he appeals his conviction was previously denied.
Holmes was also convicted on multiple counts of defrauding investors and has been ordered to turn herself in on April 27.
Once valued at $9 billion, Theranos attracted top investors and retail partners with claims that it had developed technology to test for a wide range of conditions using just a few drops of blood.
The company began to unravel after a Wall Street Journal investigation in 2015 reported that Theranos had only ever performed roughly a dozen of the hundreds of tests it offered using its proprietary technology, and with questionable accuracy.
Balwani, nearly 20 years older than Holmes, first met her in 2002 before she dropped out of Stanford. He served as an informal adviser to Holmes in Theranos’ earliest days and the two became romantically involved. Balwani guaranteed a “multimillion-dollar loan” to the startup in 2009, court filings show, and took on a formal role as president and chief operating officer.
Although Holmes and Balwani were indicted together, their trials were severed after Holmes indicated she intended to accuse Balwani of sexually, emotionally and psychologically abusing her throughout their decade-long relationship, which coincided with her time running the company. (Balwani’s attorneys have denied her claims.)
During her trial, Holmes claimed Balwani tried to control nearly every aspect of her life — including disciplining her eating, her voice and image, and isolating her from others.
Holmes testified that while he didn’t control her interactions with investors, business partners and others, “he impacted everything about who I was, and I don’t fully understand that.”