1 of 2 | Former Theranos COO Ramesh 'Sunny' Balwani arrives for sentencing at the Robert F. Peckham United States Courthouse and Federal Building in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday. Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE
Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Former Theranos COO Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani was sentenced to 12 years and 11 months in federal prison Wednesday.
Balwani's sentence is nearly two years longer than that of founder and one-time romantic partner Elizabeth Holmes. She was sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, last month.
Balwani was convicted in July for his role in defrauding investors, raising millions of dollars for the company in the process. He will be supervised for three years after being released from prison. He awaits a hearing to determine the amount of restitution he will owe for his crimes.
Theranos deceived investors with the promise of a new device which could perform numerous blood tests with just the prick of a finger.
A news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California said Balwani shared false and misleading descriptions of the "revolutionary" new medical device by approving a 2013 Wall Street Journal article that touted its capabilities and efficacy. Balwani, along with Holmes, claimed the blood analyzer could replace tests that would normally be performed by a lab and deliver results with more accuracy.
In truth, the blood analyzer was more limited than Balwani and Holmes claimed. Tests of the product showed it to be slower than other methods and performed fewer tests than claimed. The duo used "conventional machines" to record test results that they said came from the blood analyzer, then used those results as if they came from their device.
Theranos then provided the device to the public. While the claims made by Balwani and Holmes were false, the results of relying on their device were real for those who used it.
One example described in the news release is of a pregnant woman who had a history of multiple miscarriages. Her device gave her incorrect results that suggested she was having another miscarriage. She was not. Ultimately she delivered a healthy baby, but the report says multiple pregnant women had similar experiences.
"Balwani not only deliberately concealed defects in Theranos' blood-testing technology to mislead investors, he knowingly put patients' health at risk," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Tripp. "Today's sentence reflects years of dedication by the FBI and our partners to investigate fraud within Theranos and bring the company's leadership to justice."
Theranos raised about $730 million by 2015 on the back of these false claims about their product. Balwani owned a 6% share of the company.
On Nov. 28, Holmes testified that Balwani sexually and emotionally abused her throughout their relationship.
"He would get very angry with me, and then he would sometimes come upstairs to our bedroom and he would force me to have sex with him when I didn't want to because he would say that he wanted me to know that he still loved me," she said.