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A California man who allegedly attempted to hire a hitman on the dark web last year to kill a woman he’d briefly dated pleaded guilty in federal court this week.
Scott Quinn Berkett, 25, pleaded guilty to to one count of use of interstate facilities to commit the murder-for-hire of his ex-girlfriend, the Department of Justice announced Monday. He'd been arrested in May 2021.
Federal prosecutors say the Beverly Hills-based Berkett sought to solicit the services of a dark web hitman in 2021 to assassinate a woman he'd dated after she rejected him. Berkett admitted to sending the group approximately $13,000 in bitcoin, according to his plea agreement, which Oxygen.com obtained.
Berkett met the victim online in 2020, according to the case’s affidavit. In late October 2020, the woman, who is from Idaho, flew to Los Angeles to meet Berkett. During the trip, the woman claimed Berkett had became “sexually aggressive” and later was “very possessive” with her.
After the visit, she tried to end her relationship with Berkett multiple times; however, the 25-year-old “refused to accept the break-up.” For months, he constantly messaged the woman on social media platforms, the complaint states.
In April 2021, a concerned member of the victim's family contacted Berkett’s father by text and phone threatening to involve law enforcement if Berkett didn’t leave the victim alone. Berkett denied having spoken with her in upwards of a month and claimed to have blocked his ex-girlfriend on social media.
Prosecutors, however, said that effectuating his ex-girlfriend’s death ultimately became an “obsession” for Berkett.
After the contact by the victim's family with his father, Berkett began seriously browsing dark web sites that purportedly advertising murder-for-hire services. On April 22, 2021, Berkett, using the user name “Ula77,” told one dark net user he was “saving up for a simple hit,” court documents state.
“I’ll be putting the job in as soon as I have the BTC [Bitcoin],” Berkett told the dark net user.
In purported negotiations with one dark web group that he believed facilitated hit jobs, Berkett requested photos of his ex-girlfriend’s body be sent to him after the targeted killing was complete. He also asked the purported hitman to destroy the woman’s phone.
“I would like proof of her death sent to me,” Berkett wrote on April 27 to dark website advertising supposed murder-for-hire services. “She has a distinctive tattoo on one of her forearms that I know the image of, so a photo of her corpse and a photo of her tattoo for identification would work…If possible, letting me know if she was in Arizona or Idaho would also be appreciated so I can also verify via the obituaries.”
The next day, Berkett transferred $11,000 in bitcoin to the dark website he’d hoped would carry out the murder-for-hire. In his “order,” Berkett included the victim’s full name, Facebook account, her physical address in Idaho, email address and nicknames.
“I’d like it to look like an accident, but robbery gone wrong may work better,” Berkett stated in his communications with the purported dark web contract killer. “So long as she is dead. I’d also like for her phone to be retrieved and destroyed irreparably in the process.”
He later sent an additional $2,000 to the dark web group to fulfill the murder-for-hire.
The dark web assassination site — which detectives say was actually a scam — tipped off the media, which in turn alerted the FBI to Berkett’s alleged search for a hitman to kill the then-unidentified victim.
The media outlet provided “transaction information from an unnamed source on the Dark Web that showed that Bitcoin payments were made with an understanding that an unknown individual would murder Victim 1,” case’s affidavit also states.
In May 2021, an undercover officer contacted Berkett posing as the hitman he’d thought he’d hired on the dark web. Berkett, who demanded proof of the woman’s murder, ultimately sent an additional $1,000 through Western Union to the undercover investigator.
Berkett’s sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 12 and he faces a maximum punishment of up to 10 years in federal prison. As part of his plea agreement, however, prosecutors are recommending a prison term of no more than five years.
His attorneys, Evan Jenness and Blair Berk, weren't immediately available for comment when contacted by Oxgyen.com on Wednesday.
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