A federal judge sentenced a Marin County man to more than 11 years in prison for an alleged fraud scheme involving the biotechnology company he ran.

Lawrence Gerrans, 50, of San Anselmo allegedly siphoned millions of dollars from Sanovas Inc., which specializes in miniature medical devices. Gerrans was the president and chief executive of the company.

Authorities alleged that Gerrans transferred the funds to himself and two shell companies he controlled, then used the money to buy his five-bedroom $2.5 million Sleepy Hollow home in cash.

The government also alleged that Gerrans made false statements to the company board to be reimbursed for retirement funds he had liquidated. He told the board he used the money to benefit the company, but he spent it on a Maserati, a diamond ring and other personal expenses, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco.

“In another part of the scheme to defraud, evidence also showed that in 2017 Gerrans used a Sanovas corporate credit card for lavish personal expenditures, including a $44,000 vacation timeshare, $12,500 for high-end carpets for his home, and $32,000 to pay the property taxes on his personal residence,” the office said.

The prosecution estimated that the loss to Sanovas and investors was $3,547,668.

A federal grand jury indicted Gerrans in 2019. He took the case to trial. In January, a jury convicted him of wire fraud, illegal transactions, making false statements to a government agency, contempt of court, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco sentenced Gerrans on Wednesday to 11 years and three months in prison. The prosecution sought 14 years.

In a sentencing memorandum, federal prosecutors Robin Harris and Lloyd Farnham said Gerrans’ conduct “was a grotesque betrayal of the company he was entrusted to lead.”

“His acts were driven solely by greed to sustain a lifestyle filled with fancy sports cars, opulent family vacations, extravagant jewelry, an over the top 50th birthday party for his wife that included multiple bottles of Silver Oak wine, handmade designer rugs and furnishings, spa treatments and elective cosmetic procedures,” they wrote. “All of this was paid for from Sanovas’ coffers.”

They also alleged that Gerrans tried to enlist his brother to wait for Harris outside her home and “take her out” before the trial.

Gerrans’ defense attorney, Shawn Halbert, said her client “maintains his innocence.”

“He did not receive a fair trial and was convicted on the basis of false and incomplete evidence,” Halbert said. “We hope that the Court of Appeals will review the evidence that was never presented at trial and vindicate Mr. Gerrans.

“His sentence to more than 11 years in prison was severe and devastating for a nonviolent person with such a long history of community service and support, particularly in light of the dangers and inhumane prison conditions resulting from COVID-19,” she said.

Sanovas Inc. was based in San Rafael when Gerrans was indicted. Now the headquarters are in Petaluma.


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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