Famed biotech venture capitalist G. Steven Burrill is headed to federal prison after pleading guilty to defrauding his investors and falsifying tax returns.

Burrill, 74, faced up to 30 years in prison and $750,000 in fines, but he will serve just 30 months and pay $200 after signing a sealed plea agreement last year. Burrill will surrender to authorities on March 4, according to court documents.

According to prosecutors, the Bay Area investor siphoned more than $18 million from his fund, Burrill & Company, between 2007 and 2013. Burrill then dodged more than $4.7 million in taxes by failing to report the income, prosecutors said.


Burrill’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.


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In 2016, Burrill settled related charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused him of spending ill-gotten money on lavish trips and gifts for his wife and girlfriend. Burrill payed $5.8 million in fines and restitution and agreed to a lifetime ban from the securities industry.

The sentence concludes a dramatic fall from grace for Burrill, who was once among the most visible financiers in biotech. Once dubbed a “visionary” by Scientific American, Burrill gave well-attended state-of-the-industry lectures at the BIO industry conference each year and ran his own biotech publication, The Burrill Report.

He founded Burrill & Company in 1994 and raised more than $1 billion over the ensuing two decades. At its peak, the firm functioned as a merchant bank and sell-side research operation as well as a venture fund. Burrill’s partners ousted him in 2014, alleging the very frauds to which he would later plead guilty.

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