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Ex-Jail Guard Pleads Not Guilty To Posing As U.S. Marshal In Murder-For-Hire Plot

Jerry Banks has pleaded not guilty to a kidnapping charge in connection with the alleged murder-for-hire of Dr. Serhat Gumrukcu's business partner, Gregory Davis, in Vermont in 2018. 

By Gina Tron
An FBI handout of Jerry Banks

A former Colorado jail guard accused of being part of an elaborate murder-for-hire plot has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping the victim.

Jerry Banks, 34, of Fort Garland, Colorado, pleaded not guilty to a kidnapping charge on Thursday in Vermont’s federal court, the Denver Post reports. He was arrested and charged in April in connection with the Jan. 6, 2018 murder of Gregory Davis, 49, of Vermont. The Denver Post notes that Banks was a part-time jail guard with the Costilla County Sheriff’s Office at the time of the murder.  

While Banks hasn’t been charged with murder, a press release from the U.S. Attorney for Vermont states that the "government has alleged that Banks murdered Davis." Davis, who lived in Danville, Vermont — in the northeast portion of the state — “was found dead in a snowbank several miles from his residence,” according to the press release. Someone posing as a U.S. Marshal had pretended to arrest him at his home before he was taken away.  

Investigators allege that biotech founder and researcher Dr. Serhat Gumrukcu, 39, of Los Angeles orchestrated the murder, paying for a hit on Davis after a 2015 multimillion-dollar oil deal between the two, as well as Serhat Gumrukcu’s brother Murat, turned bitter. 

The “Gumrukcus failed to perform on the deal and had made various claims about their attempts to perform. Davis believed that the Gumrukcus had lied to him about various matters,” court records state, adding that Davis threatened to call the FBI on them.

Prosecutors allege that Dr. Gumrukcu “had a strong motive to prevent Davis” from reporting fraud because he co-founded the successful biotech company Enochian Bioscience in 2017. The company — which claims to be developing several drugs for diseases, including HIV and COVID-19 — has Gumrukcu as the company’s largest shareholder. He apparently owns over $100 million worth of Enochian stock, according to court records. 

A federal grand jury in Vermont indicted both Serhat Gumrukcu and Berk Eratay, 35, of Las Vegas, Nevada last week with conspiring to use interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire which resulted in Davis’ death. Aron Lee Ethridge, 41, of Henderson, Nevada was also arrested in April on charges of conspiring to kidnap Davis. Ethridge was allegedly in communication with Banks before and after the kidnapping and murder, according to the feds.

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