A California man will spend the next five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to trying to have an ex murdered.
Scott Quinn Berkett, 25, received a 60-month sentence on Monday for using cryptocurrency in an attempt to have a woman killed after she rebuffed his advances, according to the Department of Justice. Berkett, who has been in federal custody since his May 2021 arrest, pleaded guilty in June to one count of use of interstate facilities to commit murder-for-hire.
Criminal complaints obtained by Oxygen.com state that Berkett paid approximately $13,000 in Bitcoin to a scam website on the dark web plus another $1,000 cash to an undercover FBI agent to have the unnamed woman killed. He further demanded the potential assassin send proof of the woman’s murder.
Federal prosecutors said Berkett felt snubbed when a woman with whom he had once been involved in a brief relationship tried to break things off, and Berkett “refused to accept no for an answer,” according to a sentencing memorandum obtained by Oxygen.com.
Photo: United States Attorney’s Office
“Berkett’s crime was not a momentary lapse in judgment, but a premeditated plot to kill the victim because she rejected his advances,” federal prosecutors stated. “While attempting to take a life is atrocious enough, Berkett’s chosen method of carrying out the crime — using the Dark Web to hire a hitman and cryptocurrency — speak[s] to his sophistication, meticulous planning and attempts to anonymize his illegal conduct in the commission of this offense, and are aggravating in nature.”
According to court records, Berkett, a software technician from Beverly Hills, met the unnamed victim in July 2020 on a Facebook group for fans of Japanese anime. About three months later, the woman flew from her home in Idaho to meet Berkett in Los Angeles, where the pair became “romantically involved.”
But the victim claimed that Berkett became “sexually aggressive” and “very possessive” during an October 2020 visit, and she thus tried to break things off. He, however, continued to harass her for several months until a relative of the victim contacted Berkett’s father and demanded that his son stop bothering the victim.
Prosecutors said Berkett used his father’s phone and replied, “She is blocked from all social media. Will consider this matter closed.”
But investigators said that Berkett didn't stop at that point.
“Defendant would not — could not — accept her rejection," prosecutors wrote.
In April 2021, Berkett created the username “Ula77” to reach out to a hitman on a dark web site, which was actually a scam site that “does not provide murder-for-hire services, and instead, provided defendant’s communications and other related information to law enforcement,” per the memo.
Federal prosecutors said Berkett told the would-be hitman to make the victim’s death look like a robbery gone wrong and requested a postmortem photo of a tattoo the victim had on her forearm. He paid $13,000.
After the site handed Berkett's information over to the FBI in May 2021, the undercover agent sent photos of the victim to Berkett so he could confirm her identity, which he did.
Burkett was arrested on May 21 after wiring an additional $1,000 to the undercover agent.
In the recent filing, the unnamed victim made an impact statement.
“What the defendant has done to me will haunt me for the rest of my life,” the victim wrote. “This is something I fear I’ll never truly forget or recover from.”
Feds says she lives with anxiety and suffers from nightmares “on an almost daily basis,” preventing her from performing day-to-day tasks without becoming “paralyzed with angst.”
“There is a man in this world that wants my child dead. A man that wants a picture of her corpse,” the victim’s mother stated in her own impact statement. “If I word this too strongly, who’s to say it won’t anger him further? He isn’t going to be locked up forever. If he was bold enough to do this, what else is he capable of?”
The judge approved the prosecutors’ request for a five-year prison sentence, as well as three years supervised release and a fine of $20,000.
Records from the Federal Bureau of Prisons show Berkett is being housed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles.