A change of plea hearing for a Beverly Hills man who allegedly tried to hire a “hit man” to kill a woman he briefly dated was delayed Monday until June 13.
Scott Berkett, 25, has agreed to enter his plea to a single federal count of using interstate facilities to commit murder-for-hire, which carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years. However, prosecutors agreed to seek a penalty of no more than five years, according to the plea agreement filed in L.A. federal court.
Berkett met the woman online, and she flew to Los Angeles to meet him in late October 2020. Identified in court papers by the initials R.E., the woman described Berkett as “sexually aggressive” and she tried repeatedly to break off the relationship following the trip, an affidavit in the case says.
Months later, a relative of the woman, who learned Berkett was still contacting her, reached out to the defendant’s father via text. Berkett responded by saying “consider this matter closed,” according to the criminal complaint.
Instead, federal prosecutors allege, Berkett paid $13,000 in bitcoin to a shadowy dark web group to arrange the hit and an additional $1,000 to the supposed hit man. However, the website turned out to be a scam and its operators provided the defendant’s communications and other information to law enforcement.
The supposed hit man was, in fact, an undercover agent.
Prosecutors contend Berkett submitted a work order to the dark web group, saying he’d like the murder “to look like an accident, but robbery gone wrong may work better.”
The undercover agent posing as a hit man made contact with Berkett in May 2021 and sent a photo of R.E., which Berkett confirmed was the intended victim, according to the affidavit. During discussions with the purported killer, Berkett allegedly demanded a proof-of-death photo that would show the corpse, prosecutors said.