The trial of former Theranos CEO Sunny Balvani is over

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SAN JOSE – Sunny Balvani, the former business and romantic partner of the disgraced biotech entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes, is expected to face final arguments in his fraud trial on Tuesday.

The former chief operating officer of the start-up blood test company Theranos has been charged with 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud, one charge more than Holmes ultimately faced last year.

Holmes, who has been the subject of numerous books, podcasts, documentaries and, more recently, a series about Hulu, was convicted on four charges of misleading investors in early January this year. Sentences include possible fines and imprisonment, and she is expected to be convicted in September.

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has been found guilty of a notorious case of Silicon Valley fraud

Theranos was a highly developed biotech startup founded in 2003 that ultimately claimed to be able to conduct hundreds of tests with just a few drops of blood taken from a patient’s fingertip. The company has attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, including high-ranking figures such as Walmart’s famous Walton family, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Mexican businessman Carlos Slim and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.

The members of the Theranos board were former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz and former Secretary of Defense Jim Mathis. Investors and the media seemed captivated by the young CEO – Holmes started the company when she was just 19 – and her desire to make medical tests cheaper and less painful.

But the company eventually disbanded in 2018 after years of control by the media and federal regulators. Theranos technology could not perform nearly as many tests as suggested, and the results were tormented by inaccuracies. Holmes was accused of massive fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the government later filed criminal charges against her and Balvani.

What you need to know about Elizabeth Holmes and the Terranos trial

The couple separated their cases from each other after Holmes claimed in court documents that Baluani had abused her during their romantic relationship. He rejected the allegations.

Balvani, like Holmes, pleaded not guilty. His trial reflects hers in many ways, including calling several of the same witnesses who testified about the company’s laboratory conditions and their investments in the company.

The Elizabeth Holmes trial is the hottest ticket to Silicon Valley

But unlike Holmes, Balvani did not testify in his own defense. His legal team called only two witnesses – a doctor who uses Theranos’ services and a technology expert who tests for an electronic database containing Theranos test results but not accessible to the government.

Holmes testified in the rostrum for more than 20 hours in November and December, attracting a large crowd to the small federal courtroom every day as the international media and interested members of the public traveled to hear her speak in her own defense.

The final arguments in the trial against Baluani are due to begin on Tuesday and are likely to last more than a day. The trial, which has been delayed by coronavirus, may be in the hands of the jury as early as this week.

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