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Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 14, 2018

Bay Area CPA Sentenced to 8 Months in Prison

Marc Howard Berger was sentenced today to 8 months in prison for aiding and assisting in the filing of false tax returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, United States Attorney Alex G. Tse, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Tara Sullivan.

On July 18, after a three-week jury trial, Berger was found guilty of willfully assisting in the preparation of three false Forms 1040 for codefendant G. Steven Burrill for the 2011, 2012, and 2013 tax years.  Evidence at trial showed that Berger, 68, of Walnut Creek, California, was a Certified Public Accountant and partner with a regional tax preparation firm, Burr Pilger Mayer.  Berger’s client, Burrill, was the owner and CEO of Burrill & Company, Burrill Capital, and a number of related entities.  Through those entities, Burrill managed venture capital funds, including Burrill Life Sciences Capital Fund III L.P. (the Fund), a $283 million investment fund focused on the life sciences industry.  Between Dec. 2007 and Sept. 2013, Burrill transferred more than $18 million from the Fund to his management companies, a sum in excess of the management fees that were due and allowable under the agreements that governed the Fund.  Berger intentionally prepared and filed false income tax returns for Burrill that failed to report more than $18 million in income, resulting in unpaid taxes of more than $4.7 million.  With Berger’s assistance, Burrill did not pay individual income taxes for the years 2009 through 2013. 

Berger was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sept. 14, 2017.  Berger was charged with three counts of willfully aiding and assisting in the preparation of three false Forms 1040 for Burrill for 2011, 2012, and 2013.

The sentence was handed down by The Honorable Richard Seeborg, U.S. District Court Judge.  Judge Seeborg also sentenced the defendant to one year of supervised release and a $20,000 fine. The defendant will begin serving the sentence on July 8, 2019.

Burrill pleaded guilty on Dec. 7, 2017, to one count of investment-adviser fraud, in violation of 15 U.S.C. §§ 80b-6 & 80b-17, 18 U.S.C. § 2, and 17 C.F.R. § 275.206(4)-8, and one count of filing a false income tax return, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1). He was sentenced to 30 months in prison on December 4, 2018.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Tse thanked special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert S. Leach and Trial Attorney Lori A. Hendrickson of the Tax Division, who prosecuted the case.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Tax
Press Release Number: 
18-1650
Updated December 14, 2018