Thomas Lee has written a new feature for the San Francisco Chronicle on Steve Burrill/the embezzlement fallout – the intro:
“Steve Burrill loved an audience. And he found plenty of them.
With his trademark pink tie and grand exhortations about the future of biotechnology, Burrill gathered awards and speaking gigs the way hobbyists collect stamps and Pez dispensers. An online biography runs to no less than 1,100 words. Among his assembled plaudits: Scientific American once named him one of the world’s top visionaries in 2002.
As much as he adored the spotlight, Burrill may have grown too fond of the perks that came with it. The Securities and Exchange Commission recently barred Burrill from professional investing after he admitted to embezzling $31 million from the venture funds he managed. Burrill used the money to support his failing businesses and to pay for a lavish lifestyle.
Burrill did not respond to a request for comment left through his attorney or messages sent to him through LinkedIn. Public records do not list a current address or phone number. The office in the Presidio of San Francisco listed on his website is vacant, with his name off the building directory and the space up for lease. No one seems to know his current whereabouts.
Burrill left behind more than an empty office. He left behind empty promises, too. He helped fleece an entire state, playing the starring role in a notorious boondoggle that people in Minnesota would rather forget. In 2009, around the same time he was beginning to siphon off money from his investors for personal use, Burrill traveled to Minnesota, promising to raise a $1 billion venture fund to back a biotech park in — of all places — an elk farm in rural Pine Island.”
Full feature (subscription may be required)
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