It’s not getting nearly as much press, but the trial of Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani boils down to the same question as the trial of his ex-lover Elizabeth Holmes: What role did Sunny play in the Theranos scandal?
Balwani’s lawyers contend that he was just another innocent investor taken in by Holmes and her false claims about the capabilities of Theranos’ lab-on-a-chip blood testing technology. The prosecution insists that Holmes and Balwani were what Assistant US Attorney Robert Leach described as “partners in everything, including their crimes.”
Last Tuesday, the prosecution read a series of text messages between Balwani and Holmes aloud to the jury purporting to demonstrate just how deeply Sunny was involved. The most damning is a text from Sunny that reads:
“I worked six days and nights to help you. . . [and] I am responsible for everything at Theranos,” according to NBC News.
Next on the stand was former Schering-Plough Corp. head of test development Dr. Constance Cullen who worked with Holmes on the Theranos blood testing project. As she did during the Holmes trial, Cullen testified that Theranos inappropriately attached Schering-Plough Corp’s logo to memos pitching its supposed breakthrough blood testing technology to Walgreen’s and potential investors. The use of the logo suggested that Schering Plough, which is part of Merck, had validated Theranos’ claims about the capabilities of the technology.
During cross-examination, Balwani’s attorneys were able to turn the tables by getting Cullen to admit that she dealt with Elizabeth Holmes and other Theranos executives, but never met Balwani. Still, it remains to be seen whether the defense’s efforts to blame everything on Holmes will prove more successful than Holmes’ bid to do the same to Balwani.