Man jailed for Bitcoin commissioned murder plot against ex

Scott Quinn Berkett

Scott Quinn Berkett (United States Department of Justice via CBS News)

A 25-year-old man from Beverly Hills who paid a dark web group $ 13,000 in Bitcoin to kill a woman he briefly dated, will spend five years in federal prison for a scheme the victim said “will haunt me for the rest of my life. “

Scott Quinn Berkett refused to leave the woman alone after she left him, so she joined an Internet group that advertised itself as a commissioned murder service, but instead provided her messages and other information to “members of an investigative media organization “who contacted the FBI, prosecutors said in court documents.

“His words leave little doubt about his desire and intention to see his ex-girlfriend killed,” they said he wrote

adding to report of conviction that Berkett’s crime “was not a momentary error of judgment, but a premeditated plot to kill the victim because he refused his advances.”

An Eagle Scout who briefly attended Washington State University, Berkett was working as a part-time software technician when federal agents arrested him in May 2021 after he went to a grocery store to buy alcohol, part of an alibi he had planned. with a man she thought was a hired hitman, but he was actually an undercover FBI agent.

He’s been in custody ever since, with the United States District Judge Marco C. Scarce in Los Angeles sentenced him Monday to five years in prison after pleading guilty in June to using interstate facilities to commit murder on commission. Her victim said in a sealed letter quoted by prosecutors that he thinks of the plot against her “almost daily” and his anxiety is worsened by “seeing someone who looks like the defendant or a glimpse of a California license plate.” .

Berkett met his victim when they were both administrators of a Facebook page for the Japanese anime show RWBY. He paid for her room at the Avalon Hotel during his visit to the Los Angeles area, and she had sex with him “but felt compelled to” and said he was “sexually aggressive,” according to an article by 38 pages charge report filed in the Central District of California.

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She broke up with him after the trip, “but he refused to accept the breakup,” prosecutors wrote and continued to message her on various social media platforms. Contact continued until a member of the victim’s family called and texted Berkett’s father asking his son to stop contacting her. Investigators believe Berkett posed as his father to answer: “Consider this matter closed.”

About two weeks later, the FBI learned of Berkett’s commissioned murder plan. Members of the “Dark Web Group” provided the agents with the victim’s name and address, as well as evidence “that the Bitcoin payments were made with the understanding that an unknown individual would kill her.” They included messages sent by Berkett after he signed up for the group and was asked, “Hi, are you looking for a hitman?”

Berkett replied, “Saving for a simple hit. I’ll get the job done as soon as I have the BTC,” referring to Bitcoin. He submitted the payment the next day and wrote,

“I wish it sounded like an accident, but a robbery gone wrong might work better. Until she died. I would also like her phone recovered and irretrievably destroyed in the process. “She also asked for” proof of her death to be sent to me “along with a photo of her dead body and a photo with a distinct tattoo on one of hers. forearms.

“I will refrain from sending a photo of the tattoo to avoid tampered with photos,” Berkett wrote, according to the complaint. “If possible, it would also be appreciated to let me know if it was in Arizona or Idaho, so I can also check through the obituaries.” He later wrote: “I look forward to receiving communications that will let me know when, approximately, I will prepare my alibi.”

By that time, the recipients of Berkett’s messages had contacted the FBI. Court Documents Reveal Few Details About “Members of an Investigative Media Organization”, with FBI Special Agent Caitlin Bowler describing their source of information as “a group on the Dark Web advertising commissioned murder services” in the May 2021 complaint.

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“As law enforcement currently understands, this Dark Web Group was a scam,” Bowdler wrote. “As far as I know, law enforcement has had no direct contact with this Dark Web Group.”

Armed with the group’s information, an undercover agent sent a message to Berkett via WhatsApp claiming to be the hired hitman. The agent ended up discussing the murder plot with him over the phone, as Berkett confirmed a number of details from the dark web group’s messages and agreed to send the man another $ 1,000 via Western Union.

Bowdler saw Berkett send the money from a Rite Aid and was arrested the next day. Investigators also searched his 2008 Mercedes.

A judge has repeatedly refused to release him on bail, along with his lawyers Evan Jenness And Blair Berk even with their last request a letter of support by his parents who described him as “very rule-oriented and law-abiding”.

She lived in their Beverly Hills home all her life, “except for three semesters when she was a student at Washington State University,” where she was proudly part of a group that acted as an “unofficial escort patrol for female students walking by. sun until late at night. “

“The group never went out with any of the students they escorted – they just wanted to help protect them,” the letter said. “Scott was very proud to be part of that group.”

United States Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian said inside a written order that Berkett’s own admission “that he has multiple personalities, including a violent personality” proves that he can harm other people, and he said that his release to his parents “would not mitigate the danger as the defendant would have committed the immediate offenses from that place and consequently successfully concealed his conduct from his parents ”.

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The judge also said that Berkett “recently attempted to produce evidence of his innocence by agreeing to pay a third party $ 10,000 to fabricate messages on the Internet suggesting the defendant was framed.” Chooljian referred to his family’s wealth, writing, “The defendant’s access to significant financial resources and his overseas travel experience reinforce” his belief that Berkett would jeopardize his parents’ home and would be fled the area to try to escape his accusations. According to prosecutors, Berkett was earning only $ 650 a month as a software technician, but still has easy access to the $ 14,000 total he paid for the woman’s murder “by demonstrating his access to financial resources.”

Berkett signed a plea bargain on April 27. Prosecutors have said in previous documents that his standard range under the Commission’s guidelines on US sentences placed him beyond the legal maximum of 10 years in prison, but they ended up recommending five years because his “health condition” are a mitigating factor. “

They included in their 10-page memo the sealed letter from the victim and the sealed letters from his mother, father and sister. His mother wrote that he felt helpless because: “There is a man in this world who wants my son to be dead. A man who wants a picture of his dead body. If I say this too loudly, who can say it won’t make him any further. . He won’t be locked up forever. If he was bold enough to do so, what else is he capable of? “

Judge Scarsi allowed Berkett’s defense memorandum to be filed under seal after his attorneys said it “refers to confidential mental health information and other information of a highly personal nature, throughout.” Him then condemned Berkett at 60 months recommended by prosecutors on Monday afternoon.

Berkett was tried by US assistant attorneys Kathy Yo And Joseph David Axelradwho left private practice in May.

Read the full memorandum of the prosecutors’ sentencing below:

(Image: United States Department of Justice via CBS News)

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