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Former Biotech VC Steven Burrill Draws 30-Month Prison Term for Fraud

Xconomy San Francisco — 

G. Steven Burrill, once a noted biotech investment fund founder, sought-after conference speaker, and life sciences publisher, was sentenced Wednesday to serve 30 months in federal prison for defrauding his investors and evading taxes.

Burrill was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 14, 2017. He was accused of diverting more than $18 million from the $283 million Burrill Life Sciences Capital Fund III under the guise of management fees. Those amounts, siphoned away during the period between December 2007 and September 2013, were not owed to him, according to a Department of Justice account. Burrill was also charged with failing to pay $4.7 million in taxes on the illicitly obtained income.

The former venture capitalist was suspected of using the money to backfill his business losses and finance a lavish lifestyle. If he had been convicted on all 34 counts in the indictment, Burrill (pictured above in 2012) could have faced a sentence of as much as 30 years in prison, the San Francisco Business Times reported last year.

Instead, Burrill pleaded guilty in December 2017 to one count of investment-advisor fraud and one count of tax evasion. He faced a maximum penalty of five years on each count, according to the Justice Department. But Burrill, 74, was sentenced to serve a 30-month stint in prison and pay a $200 fine under the terms of a sealed plea agreement, Stat News reported.

In 2016, Burrill settled Securities and Exchange Commission charges related to the same crimes by surrendering $4.8 million illegally taken from investors and paying an additional penalty of $1 million, the Wall Street Journal reported. Burrill also accepted a lifetime ban from the securities industry, according to Stat News.

Photo credit: Chemical Heritage Foundation