Biotech investor G. Steven Burrill gets 30 months in prison for tax evasion, fraud

G. Steven Burrill, a once-prominent biotech venture capitalist who pleaded guilty last year to tax evasion and investment-adviser fraud, has been sentenced by a judge to 30 months in prison.

Burrill founded San Francisco-based Burrill & Co. in 1994 and raised a series of funds that backed biotech stalwarts like Pharmasset Inc. and Galapagos NV. Along the way, he became a well-known industry voice, regularly speaking at industry meetings and publishing state-of-the-sector reports.

His management of a $283 million fund raised in 2006, Burrill Life Sciences Capital Fund III LP, led to criminal and civil allegations that he siphoned money from that vehicle to support other ventures and cover personal expenses. Between December 2007 and September 2013, Burrill transferred more than $18 million from the fund to his management companies, in excess of management fees allowed by that fund, according to federal prosecutors.

The Securities and Exchange Commission in March 2016 said Burrill agreed to settle charges that he used money from that fund to prop up other businesses and pay for family vacations, jewelry and private jets. Burrill and Burrill Capital Management agreed to hand over $4.8 million in stolen investor money and to pay a $1 million penalty, the SEC said. Investors in the fund included state pensions, other institutions and public companies. In September 2017, Burrill pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion and one count of investment-adviser fraud. He was sentenced Tuesday by federal Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco.

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