A 24-year-old man was arrested Friday on a murder-for-hire charge after he allegedly attempted to hire a hitman to kill a woman he briefly dated and who had repeatedly tried to break up with him, according to prosecutors.
Scott Quinn Berkett was charged in a federal criminal complaint that alleges he sent thousands of dollars in bitcoin to arrange the murder and then wired another $1,000 to the “hitman,” who was actually an undercover FBI agent.
Berkett and the woman met online last year, according to an affidavit in support of the complaint. She then flew to Los Angeles in late October to meet Berkett in person. The woman, who described Berkett’s behavior as “sexually aggressive,” tried to break ties with Berkett on several occasions following the trip, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a statement.
Berkett allegedly contacted a group on the dark web that advertised murder-for-hire services. While law enforcement believes that this dark web group was a scam, the group contacted a media outlet, which later provided information to the FBI.
The information provided included messages from Berkett, who was using the screenname “Ula77,” and documentation of payments by Berkett.
Berkett allegedly submitted his order for the hit on April 28, writing to the dark web group: “I’d like it to look like an accident, but robbery gone wrong may work better. So long as she is dead. I’d also like for her phone to be retrieved and destroyed irreparably in the process,” according to the Attorney’s Office, citing the affidavit. The information provided to the FBI indicated that Berkett made bitcoin payments totaling $13,000 between April 5 and May 5.
An undercover FBI agent posing as a hitman made contact with Berkett on Wednesday. Berkett then allegedly made the final $1,000 payment late Thursday afternoon.
Berkett’s court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday. If convicted of the murder-for-hire count, Berkett would face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
It was not immediately clear if Berkett had obtained an attorney.