Former Theranos president Sunny Balwani has asked a federal judge to postpone his trial on fraud charges until April 2021 and to allow him to renew his passport so he may visit his sick mother in India.
Federal prosecutors agreed to the trial postponement, according to a court filing. No indication was given of their stance on the passport request. Balwani’s mother is in rapidly declining health and was hospitalized on April 29, according to a court filing.
The trial of Balwani’s co-defendant, Theranos’ ex-CEO Elizabeth Holmes, was recently moved from July 28 to Oct. 27, 2020, due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, federal prosecutors told the court that they would like to file a superseding information containing two wire fraud counts relating to patients who paid for Theranos testing, widening the timeframe of the allegations and including company investors as fraud victims.
On Friday, Holmes’ attorney told the court that the prosecution’s superseding information “vastly broadens the charges against Ms. Holmes by, among other things, doubling the length of the alleged conspiracy to defraud investors… expanding the scope of the alleged conspiracy to defraud investors by introducing additional categories of alleged victims… and amending the alleged uses of the wires in furtherance of the alleged scheme to defraud patients, including by adding a new count of wire fraud.”
On May 8, prosecutors filed the superseding information, which is allowed under federal law if a defendant has waived their right to being charged in a superseding indictment by a grand jury. Holmes has not waived that right, according to the defense, which termed the superseding information “patently unconstitutional” by violating her 5th Amendment rights.
Holmes and Theranos were once Silicon Valley darlings, with Holmes claiming that her company was set to revolutionize blood testing with technology that could analyze tiny amounts of blood. Forbes in 2015 even recognized Holmes as America’s richest self-made woman based on Theranos’ multibillion-dollar valuation at the time.
Investigative reporting, though, soon dismantled the claims Holmes was making about Theranos’ technology, raising questions about whether she and others had misled investors. The downward spiral culminated in the 2018 shutdown of the company, with the SEC criminally charging Holmes and Balwani over what it described as a “massive fraud.”