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Press Release

Bay Area CPA Convicted Of Tax Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal jury convicted Marc Howard Berger today of three counts of aiding and abetting the filing of a false tax return announced Acting United States Attorney Alex G. Tse; Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division; Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Acting Special Agent in Charge Tara Sullivan; and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. 

The jury found that Berger willfully assisted in the preparation of three false Form 1040s for codefendant G. Steven Burrill for 2011, 2012, and 2013.  The guilty verdict followed a three-week jury trial before the Honorable Richard Seeborg, U.S. District Court Judge. 

“We commend today’s jury verdict,” said Acting United States Attorney Alex G. Tse.  “Tax preparers must know that they cannot willfully assist clients in defrauding the IRS and failing to pay their fair share.” 

Evidence at trial showed that Berger, 67, of Walnut Creek, Calif., 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 the 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 December 2007 and September 2013, Burrill transferred more than $18 million from the Fund to his management companies 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 paid no individual income taxes for the years 2009 through 2013. 

Berger and Burrill were indicted by a federal grand jury on September 14, 2017.  Berger was charged with three counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false tax return, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(2). 

Berger is currently free on bond.  The maximum statutory penalty for each count in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(2) is three years in prison and a fine of $100,000.  However, any sentence will be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. Berger’s sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.  

Burrill pleaded guilty on December 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 tax evasion, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201.  His sentencing is scheduled for September 25, 2018.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert S. Leach and Trial Attorney Lori Hendrickson of the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Maryam Beros, Larry Garland, and Bridget Kilkenny.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. 

Updated July 18, 2018