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Press Release

Bay Area CPA Sentenced To Eight Months In Prison

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

SAN FRANCISCO – Marc Howard Berger was sentenced today to eight months in prison for aiding and assisting in the filing of false tax returns, announced United States Attorney Alex G. Tse, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, 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. The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Richard Seeborg, U.S. District Judge.  

On July 18, 2018, Berger, 68, of Walnut Creek, Calif., was found guilty, after a three-week jury trial, of willfully assisting in the preparation of three false Form 1040s for codefendant G. Steven Burrill.  The Form 1040s were filed for tax years 2011, 2012, and 2013.  Evidence at trial showed that Berger 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 was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 14, 2017.  Berger was charged with three counts of willfully aiding and assisting in the preparation of three false Form 1040s for Burrill for 2011, 2012, and 2013.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Seeborg 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 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 filing a false tax return, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1).  He was sentenced to 30 months in prison on December 4, 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 December 14, 2018