A Beverly Hills man was arrested Friday on suspicion of trying to hire a hitman — actually an undercover FBI agent — to kill a woman who had tried to end their brief romantic relationship.
Scott Quinn Berkett, who faces a murder-for-hire charge, will be arraigned next week, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of California. It was not immediately clear who was representing him.
An affidavit by FBI special agent Caitlin Bowdler alleges that Berkett, 24, sent about $14,000 in bitcoin payments to a group on the dark web to arrange the murder, and then wired another $1,000 to an undercover agent posing as the hitman.
Berkett met the woman he was allegedly trying to kill through a Facebook fan page related to a Japanese anime show, according to the affidavit. After exchanging messages with Berkett and talking to him on the phone, the woman flew to Los Angeles to meet Berkett in October 2020.
Bowdler stated in the affidavit that the woman said in interviews that Berkett was sexually aggressive toward her. After the trip, the woman tried to end her relationship with Berkett, but he refused to accept the breakup and began to constantly contact her, according to the affidavit.
In April, a relative of the woman who knew about the tension with Berkett obtained the phone number of Berkett’s father and requested through text messages that Berkett stop contacting the woman, the affidavit said.
Berkett, who appeared to have been using his father’s phone, ultimately responded, “She is blocked from all social media. Will consider this matter closed,” according to the affidavit.
But his fixation on the woman continued, prosecutors allege.
Instead, the affidavit stated, members of an investigative media organization provided information to the FBI in May that showed that Berkett had solicited murder-for-hire services from a group on the dark web. The agent said that the group was actually part of a scam.
According to the affidavit, on April 28, after a bitcoin payment, Berkett allegedly wrote 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.”
On May 19, an undercover FBI agent contacted Berkett on WhatsApp pretending to be the hitman that Berkett had contracted online, according to the affidavit.
The agent sent Berkett photos of the woman, and on a call Berkett confirmed she was the intended target and that he had made the bitcoin payments, the affidavit said. The two then discussed how the murder scene should appear, and Berkett said he wanted to be sent a photo of the woman's tattoo as proof of her death.
The affidavit said the undercover agent also asked Berkett for an additional $1,000 for the murder, which it said Berkett provided the next day through a Western Union money transfer.
If convicted, Berkett faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, according to prosecutors. The alleged intended victim was not identified.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.