Opening statements Wednesday in the trial of Elizabeth Holmes's ex-boyfriend and second in command at Theranos were postponed due to COVID-19 protocols, according to the judge in a federal courtroom in downtown San Jose.
Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani faces multiple fraud charges as a co-conspirator in misleading investors and patients about the now-defunct health care startup's blood-testing technology, prosecutors say.
The judge Wednesday morning informed the jury of the postponement due to the possibility they were exposed to someone who was exposed to another person who tested positive for COVID-19, and he said he's following guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention out of an abundance of caution.
The next session is tentatively scheduled for Friday.
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Balwani's trial comes two months after Holmes was convicted on four of 11 charges. Her sentencing is set for late September, and she remains free on bond.
The charges against Balwani are similar: criminal wire fraud and conspiracy against investors, doctors and patients. Prosecutors say he and Holmes falsely told investors that the company's proprietary technology could perform a wide range of blood tests using only a drop of blood. They also grossly exaggerated Theranos's financial standing and profitability.
The trials were separated because Holmes's defense was centered on blaming Balwani, saying he controlled her through mental and physical abuse.
"I think what we will see here is the prosecution reviewing what it did in trying to make a more direct connection between Sunny and statements made to doctors and patients so they have a better chance at gaining a conviction on those counts as well," legal analyst Dean Johnson said.
Balwani is not expected to take the stand in his own defense as Holmes did, so evidence connected to their romantic relationship is unlikely to come up, Johnson said.
Holmes dropped out of Stanford University and founded Theranos in 2003. Balwani came on board in 2009 and served as president, chief operating officer and board member at the Palo Alto-based company.