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Press Release

Two Individuals Charged with Wire Fraud in Second Superseding Indictment Connected with Vermont Kidnapping and Murder

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Vermont

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that last Thursday, Serhat Gumrukcu, 39, of Los Angeles, California and Berk Eratay, 36, of Las Vegas, Nevada, were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a murder-for-hire conspiracy and the January 6, 2018 kidnapping and death of Gregory Davis, a resident of Danville, Vermont. The wire fraud charge was added to existing murder for hire conspiracy charges against Gumrukcu and Eratay and Jerry Banks, 35, of Fort Garland, Colorado and kidnapping charges against Banks. The defendants’ arraignment on the second superseding indictment is scheduled for December 29, 2022.

As described in Count 3 of the second superseding indictment, Gumrukcu and Eratay, in connection with business dealings with Davis, devised a scheme to defraud Davis and other person by attempting to deceive them about the amount of money available to Gumrukcu and his associated entities as well as the identities of individuals involved with Gumrukcu. 

The wire fraud charge in the second superseding indictment carries a maximum sentence of twenty years. The murder for hire conspiracy and kidnapping charges carry a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. The second superseding indictment contains accusations only, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. 

The prosecutors are Assistant United States Attorneys Paul Van de Graaf and Jonathan Ophardt. Banks is represented by Michael Desautels and Mary Nerino from the Federal Public Defender’s Office. Eratay is represented by Robert Katims, Esq. Gumrukcu is represented by David Kirby, Esq.

U.S. Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest commended the efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Vermont State Police for their collaborative investigation of Gumrukcu, Eratay, and Banks and the crimes associated with Davis’s murder. U.S. Attorney Kerest also thanked the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations for assisting in the ongoing investigation. 

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.  For more information about Project Safe Neighborhoods, please visit https://www.justice.gov/psn

Updated December 19, 2022

Topics
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Financial Fraud
Component