A jury in the Northern District of California convicted a San Francisco area Certified Public Accountant late yesterday of three counts of aiding and abetting the filing of a false tax return, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Alex G. Tse for the Northern District of California.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Marc Howard Berger, 67, of Walnut Creek, California, willfully assisted in the preparation of three false Form 1040s for G. Steven Burrill for the years 2011, 2012, and 2013. The guilty verdict followed a three-week jury trial before the Honorable Richard Seeborg, U.S. District Court Judge.
Berger was a CPA 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 several 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 allowable under the agreements that governed the Fund. Berger intentionally prepared and filed false income tax returns for Burrill that did not 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.
“The jury’s verdict should serve as a message to all professionals who assist their clients in evading their tax obligations that such assistance will be prosecuted,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman.
“We are gratified by the jury’s 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.”
Berger and Burrill were both 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. Berger’s sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled. Berger faces a maximum statutory penalty of three years in prison for each count.
Burrill pleaded guilty on December 7, 2017 to one count of investment-adviser fraud and one count of tax evasion. Burrill’s sentencing is scheduled for September 25, 2018. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for investment-adviser fraud and five years in prison for tax evasion.
Berger and Burrill also face a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and Acting 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 Tax Division Trial Attorney Lori Hendrickson, who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Maryam Beros, Lilian Arauz Hasse, Larry Garland, and Bridget Kilkenny.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.
Component(s): Tax Division
Press Release Number: 18-951 Updated July 19, 2018
Northern District of California DOJ / 18-951 / July 19, 2018