Theranos’ Sunny Balwani reports to Federal prison

Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani started serving his sentence at a Federal penitentiary in California. He surrended Thursday afternoon and will begin serving his 12 year and 9 month sentence at the Terminal Island Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) near San Pedro. Last December, he was convicted on all 12 counts of fraud and patient fraud.

His defense is continuing to appeal his conviction but lost on 6 April in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled that Balwani would not remain free while appeals are pursued. Additionally, he is appealing his assignment to the Atlanta federal prison (USP). Both Terminal Island and the facility he would be sent to in Atlanta are classified as low-security facilities. However, Atlanta has a history of corruption, inmate suicides, and abuse, which may come from the fact that it also has a high-security facility. Atlanta was investigated by Congress in 2021 and 2022. It is also a very old facility dating back 120 years, hardly a country club or ‘Club Fed’.

Terminal Island FCI dates back to 1938 and is located near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, situated on Federal land that includes a Coast Guard base. The island was a farming, fishing, and shipbuilding center and once housed Howard Hughes’ monster Hercules H-4 seaplane, a/k/a The Spruce Goose. Commercial businesses include canneries, docks, and SpaceX. Because of the prison’s location, it’s held more than its share of famous/infamous prisoners: mobsters Al Capone, Mickey Cohen, and ‘Goodfella’ Henry Hill; Watergate’s G. Gordon Liddy, LSD advocate Timothy Leary, murderer Charles Manson, and car executive John Z. DeLorean. During World War II, it was used to hold court-martialed Navy prisoners. It is relatively small as Federal prisons go and holds about 1,000 inmates. 

The coverage from CNN to local media tends to be light on details and heavy on a rerun of Theranos and Balwani’s involvement with Holmes. Holmes is due to surrender next week on 27 April, unless the Circuit Court of Appeals stays the start of sentence. KRON4, CNN, KTVU2

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