12.9 year Federal sentence set to begin 15 March. On Friday 17 February, Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani, former Theranos president/COO, his defense attorneys, and the prosecution were in Judge Edward Davila’s Federal District courtroom to argue that Balwani should remain free during appeal, and–surprisingly–should owe nothing in restitution to investors.
Balwani is scheduled to report is scheduled to report to the minimum security Federal prison at Lompoc, California to begin his 155-month sentence on 15 March. During the hearing, Judge Davila did not issue a decision on Balwani’s freedom through appeal, nor about restitution. In play are the parallel sentences and appeals of Balwani’s boss and lover, Elizabeth Holmes, with her delay of surrender based on appeals being filed and restitution being decided in the same court.
Balwani’s defense is taking a different tack than Holmes’ defense regarding restitution. His attorney, Amy Walsh, presented that the company was still valuable at the time of Balwani’s dismissal in May 2016. Theranos still had $350 million in cash and intellectual property worth $100 million. Judge Davila seemed skeptical of that: “Are you saying his conduct was completely divorced from Theranos’ demise?” The prosecution is seeking a far higher restitution–$900 million–than the $120 million Judge Davila estimated at the time of Balwani’s sentencing.
Elizabeth Holmes is also seeking to remain free while appealing her 11.25 year sentence in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, with filings in December and January [TTA 24 Jan, 10 Jan] with Balwani’s filings on a similar timetable. Her defense team also filed for a new trial [TTA 15 Jan] based on purported errors by Judge Davila during her trial. Her restitution hearing on the $121 million Judge Davila has estimated during her sentencing is now scheduled for 17 March. As with Balwani, the prosecution is seeking a far higher restitution–$804 million.
Holmes’ surrender date is scheduled for 27 April to the Federal prison in Bryan, Texas–a change by the Federal Bureau of Prisons from Dublin, California, as rumored in November [TTA 30 Nov]. The women-only minimum security Bryan facility is considered in the Federal system to be ‘heaven’ compared to the Dublin satellite camp, though the latter is only about an hour from her home, partner Billy Evans, and her
soon-to-be two children. The selection is important because Federal inmates serve in general 85% of their sentence.
Updated Holmes’ second child has been born, according to a court filing on Thursday. Her defense continues to press for postponing her surrender during the appeals process. Defense and prosecution continue to wrangle on Holmes’ flight risk, based on the never-taken January 2022 Mexico trip and one-way ticket, now on the basis that she has never directly denied that she intended to flee nor explained her lack of a return ticket [TTA 24 Jan]. Mercury News
Balwani’s defense also maintains that government misconduct during the trial makes success for appeal likely, that he is not a flight risk based on his behavior since 2018, and has no history of violence. The clock is ticking down on both Balwani and Holmes. AP