Two Men Charged in Murder-for-Hire Conspiracy Resulting in Death

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Serhat Gumrukcu, 39, of Los Angeles, California, and Berk Eratay, 35, of Las Vegas, Nevada, were arrested yesterday after having been charged by a federal grand jury in Vermont with conspiring to use interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire which resulted in the death of Gregory Davis, a resident of Danville, Vermont. 

Gumrukcu is expected to appear later today in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.  Eratay is expected to appear later today in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada.

According to court records, Jerry Banks, 34, of Fort Garland, Colorado was previously arrested after having been charged with kidnapping Gregory Davis from his Danville home on January 6, 2018.  On January 7, 2018, Davis was found dead in a snowbank several miles from his residence.  Although Banks is not charged with Davis’s murder, the government has alleged that Banks murdered Davis.  Also, Aron Lee Ethridge, 41, of Henderson, Nevada has been arrested on charges of conspiring to kidnap Davis, and Ethridge is alleged to have communicated with Banks before and after the kidnapping and murder.

The indictment charging Gumrukcu and Eratay contains accusations only, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.  If convicted, Gumrukcu and Eratay face mandatory life in prison or the death penalty.  

The prosecutors are Assistant United States Attorneys Paul Van de Graaf and Jonathan Ophardt.  Counsel for Gumrukcu and Eratay have not yet been appointed or entered formal appearances.

U.S. Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest commended the efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Vermont State Police in their collaborative investigation of Gumrukcu and Eratay. 

This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime. https://www.justice.gov/psn