Nevada man pleads guilty in Vt. murder-for-hire scheme
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - One of the middlemen in the 2018 murder-for-hire of a Vermont man admitted on Friday to his role in the multi-state scheme.
Aron Lee Ethridge, 42, of Nevada pleaded guilty in federal court in Burlington to two counts -- using interstate commerce to arrange the murder of 49-year-old Gregory Davis of Danville, and conspiracy to kidnap with death resulting.
Prosecutors allege that Ethridge served as a middleman between Jerry Banks, 34, of Colorado, Berk Eratay, 35, of Nevada, and Serhat Gumrukcu, 39, of Los Angeles.
Authorities say Davis had been threatening to go to the FBI with information that Gumrukcu, the co-founder of a Los Angeles-based biotechnology company, was defrauding Davis in a multimillion-dollar oil deal that Gumrukcu and his brother had entered into with Davis in 2015.
Court documents outline how Ethridge was contacted in 2017 by Eratay, who paid him $100,000 to cover the cost of murdering Davis. Ethridge used half the money to hire Banks to carry out the hit. Then, they say Ethridge was paid more money in Bitcoin after Davis was dead. Banks and Ethridge allegedly spent three months fine-tuning their murderous plot and then on January 6, 2018, Banks showed up at Davis’s home posing as a U.S. Marshal claiming to have an arrest warrant. That’s when they say Banks kidnapped and killed Davis. His body would be found by police the next day in a snowbank on the side of Peacham Road in Barnet. After the murder, prosecutors say Banks called Ethridge, who then relayed the message to the others involved.
Banks, Gumrucku, and Eratay are all behind bars awaiting trial. Banks pleaded not guilty to kidnapping. Gumrukcu and Eratay are both facing conspiracy to use interstate commerce to commit murder for hire.
Ethridge faces up to 27 years in prison when he is sentenced in December.
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