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The trial of Elizabeth Holmes’ ex-lover is nearing its climax

A jury is scheduled to hear Tuesday’s closing arguments in the trial of Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, the former Theranos official accused of conspiring with his secret lover, CEO Elizabeth Holmes, to commit a massive fraud.

The three months of testimonies and evidence mirrored the case against Holmes in a separate attempt last year. Holmes was convicted acquitted on four counts of defrauding investors and four counts alleging she also deceived patients undergoing Theranos blood tests. She is free on $500,000 bail but faces a possible prison sentence of up to 20 years. Balwani faces the same penalty if convicted.

Holmes, 38, is currently awaiting sentencing in September.

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Lawyers for Balwani, 57, have portrayed him as a well-intentioned investor and entrepreneur who became Theranos’ chief operating officer in 2010 and was then implicated in the scam by Holmes. She later left him as her lover and business partner in 2016 as Theranos began to disintegrate.

Prior to this rift, Balwani put up $15 million of his own money to bolster Theranos when Holmes brought him on board as their top lieutenant while they secretly lived together. Balwani’s Theranos investment eventually became worth about $500 million on paper — a holding his attorneys told jurors he never sold. It became worthless when the company collapsed.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, have portrayed Balwani as a ruthless accomplice who helped Holmes defraud investors. At one point, they claimed, Balwani oversaw the Theranos lab covering up serious flaws in the company’s blood testing technology that could have endangered patient lives.

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Holmes’ bold claims for Theranos helped make her a Silicon Valley star — also a wealthy one, with a paper fortune of $4.5 billion based on the company’s success in fundraising and brokerage of deals based on Holmes’ promise that Theranos would revolutionize healthcare. Holmes boasted the company had developed technology that could use a few drops of blood drawn with a finger prick to check for more than 200 potential health problems.

Balwani began dating Holmes around the same time she founded Theranos, and then began giving her business advice stemming from his past success, including selling a tech startup that made him wealthy. Their relationship was a focus of a Hulu TV series “The Dropout” on Holmes’ Rise and Fall, published just before the trial began, complicating efforts to select an unbiased jury.

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During her trial, Holmes took the witness stand and at one point tearfully accused Balwani being a dominant figure in her life who has subjected her to emotional and sexual abuse. One of Balwani’s other attorneys vehemently denied these allegations during Holmes’ trial. Balwani’s attorneys have asked jurors in the current trial to dismiss anything they have previously read or heard about Holmes’ allegations.

There was speculation that Holmes might return to court during his trial to testify against Balwani, but it never happened. Unlike Holmes, Balwani chose not to testify in his own defense at his trial.

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https://www.local10.com/business/2022/06/21/trial-of-elizabeth-holmes-partner-ex-lover-nears-climax/ The trial of Elizabeth Holmes’ ex-lover is nearing its climax

Sarah Y. Kim

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