In a text shared with jurors charged with deciding the fate of Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, the former COO of Elizabeth Holmes’ failed tech startup Theranos, he proudly touted his place in the company.
“I am responsible for everything about Theranos,” Balwani wrote.
The news between Balwani and Sherlock Holmes, who was dating at the time, was made public Wednesday in court in San Jose, NBC Bay Area reported. The text statement refutes the arguments of Balwani’s legal team, which argued in opening arguments in the fraud case last month that he was merely an investor in Theranos.
Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, left, the former chief operating officer of Theranos, arrives with his attorney in U.S. federal court in San Jose, California, on March 15.
Former Theranos Chief Operating Officer Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, left, arrives with his lawyers in U.S. federal court in San Jose, Calif., on March 15 (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images).
Balwani was indicted in June 2018 on federal wire fraud charges along with Holmes, whose failed biotech company was once worth $9 billion. Both have been accused of defrauding investors, doctors and patients by falsely claiming Theranos could revolutionize medical lab testing, citing a unique technology that enables widespread testing with just a few drops of blood.
In January, a jury concluded that Holmes knew her blood test didn’t work as she claimed, and that it rarely gave accurate results. She was found guilty of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy, and the jury found no verdict on three counts of wire fraud, which was eventually quashed.
During her months-long trial, which took place in the same courtroom as that of her ex-lover, Holmes sought to place all the blame on Balwani. She claims he was emotionally abusive and manipulative, and claims their relationship ultimately compromised her judgment.
Stephen Casares, a lawyer for the former COO, dismissed her claims. He noted that while Balwani began a relationship with Holmes around the same time she founded Theranos — shortly after she left Stanford in 2003 — he didn’t join the company until 2009. At the time, he secured a loan from Theranos with $10 million of his own, then invested $5 million in a stake in the company that was eventually valued at $500 million.
Cazares added that Balwani believed in Theranos and was as shocked as the victim when he learned of its shortcomings.
Text messages also played a big role in the Sherlock Holmes fraud trial, during which the jury obtained some 600 pages of her personal correspondence. She will be sentenced in September.
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