Elizabeth Holmes’s victims asked to weigh in for sentencing

By Joel Rosenblatt | Bloomberg

The US Justice Department is seeking input from victims of the frauds at blood-testing startup Theranos Inc. committed by Elizabeth Holmes and her second-in-command, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani.

Former Theranos COO Ramesh “Sunny’ Balwani leaves the Robert F. Peckham U.S. Federal Court on June 28, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The US Attorney’s Office in San Francisco on Thursday issued a “call for information” from victims following the separate convictions of the former executives for their roles in the collapse of the company once valued at $9 billion. The federal judge in San Jose, California, who presided over the trials will use the information in determining their sentences, according to a statement from the office.

Holmes was convicted in January of defrauding investors, while Balwani was found guilty in July on similar counts as well as defrauding patients.

The trials for Holmes and Balwani were split because Holmes accused the ex-Theranos president, who was also her boyfriend, of sexually and verbally abusing her. It would have been unfair for Balwani to defend against both the government’s charges and Holmes’s claims.

In their respective trials, the Theranos executives blamed each other for the fraud. US District Judge Edward Davila will weigh the evidence presented at both trials, as well as the counts each was found guilty of, in determining their sentences. Criminal defense lawyers have said both Holmes and Balwani could face a decade in prison.

Prosecutors said they’re distributing questionnaires, requesting statements about the impact of the frauds. Based on the information provided, participants may be contacted by law enforcement agencies and asked to provide additional information, according to the statement.

Both former executives remain free on bond and have asked Davila to set aside the jury verdicts. Holmes’s sentencing is scheduled for October; Balwani’s is set for November.

Lance Wade, a lawyer representing Holmes, and Jeffrey Coopersmith, an attorney for Balwani, didn’t immediately respond to emails after regular business hours seeking comment.

The cases are US v. Holmes and Balwani, 18-cr-00258, US District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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