The Turkish biotech tycoon charged with plotting the murder of a Vermont father shot dead in 2018 is a former teenage magician who allegedly faked his own medical degree to dupe US healthcare executives, including Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Serhat Gumrukcu is the 39-year-old founder of Enochian Biosciences, which claims to be developing treatments for cancer, hepatitis and HIV. The company is listed on the NASDAQ with a valuation of of $137million, of which he is believed to own $98million.
Hindenburg Research recently described the company’s work as being rooted in an ‘entirely preclinical pipeline of claimed miracle cures’.
Gumrukcu founded the company claiming he had extensive medical training and a PhD from a university in Russia, but he is unlicensed to practice in the US.
Prosecutors also say there is no firm proof that his degree is real.
Last month, Gumrukcu was arrested at LAX Airport on suspicion of plotting the 2018 murder of Gregory Davis, a business associate who the feds think planned to report him for fraud.
Now, he is in federal custody in California being held on charges of a conspiracy to commit murder. The 39-year-old’s attorney insists he is innocent.
Serhat Gumrukcu is the 39-year-old founder of Enochian Biosciences, which claims to be developing treatments for cancer, hepatitis and HIV. The company is listed on the NASDAQ with a valuation of of $137million, of which he is believed to own $98million
Davis was found shot dead in a snowy bank on the side of the road near his home the day after a mysterious man appeared at his house, posing as a US Marshal, and claiming he needed to question him.
The killer even arrived in a car with red-and-blue flashing lights.
Prosecutors say Gumrukcu hired the hitman, since identified as Jerry Banks, through two middle-men to kidnap and kill Davis to stop him from reporting him to the FBI.
The pair had entered an oil deal years prior but had fallen into dispute, according to court documents obtained by DailyMail.com.
Davis believed that Gumrukcu and his brother were lying to him about the profits of their deal. Around the same time, Gumrukcu had also been charged in California state court with writing checks that bounced.
YouTube videos show him performing magic tricks in Turkey in 2002, when he was a teenager, before he moved to the US to charm Silicon Valley and the healthcare world.
His social media page shows him mixing with celebrities like Helen Mirren and Boy George, and his company was so impressive with its research into curing diseases that it caught the eye of Anthony Fauci.
An email obtained by The Wall Street Journal reveals that Fauci told his staff at the National Health Institute to meet with Gumrukcu and his colleague to discuss their research into curing hepatitis B.
‘[The co-worker] will be at the NIH tomorrow with a scientist who has some very interesting data on hepatitis B.
Gumrukcu’s company is described as being rooted in an ‘preclinical pipeline of claimed miracle cures’
The Turkish national claims to have a medical degree from Russia – but prosecutors cast doubt over whether or not it was real in their charging documents
‘I was supposed to meet with them but I am swamped with the coronavirus,’ he told a staff member in the email dated February 2, 2020.
It’s unclear how he raised funding for Enochian, or whether or not any of its treatments are in use.
Federal prosecutors say Gumrukcu and his brother – who has not been in the US for years and who lives in Turkey – were ‘the only people who appeared to have a serious dispute with Davis or any motive for Davis’s execution.’
In 2017, Davis was threatening them about ‘going to the FBI with evidence’ that the were ‘defrauding him’ in a multi-million dollar oil deal.
The deal was struck in 2015 and it’s unclear what the details are, but prosecutors say the Turkish brothers ‘failed to perform on the deal and made various claims about their attempts to perform’.
Murder for hire: In 2018, Greg Davis was murdered in Vermont after being collected from his home by a man posing as a US Marshal. His body was found the next day in a snowy bank next to his house
Davis was in a dispute with the Turkish scientist and planned to report him to the FBI when he was suddenly murdered, according to prosecutors
‘Davis believed that the Gumrukcu’s lied to him about various matters. During that same time, Serhat Gumrukcu was facing felony fraud charges in California state court.’
At the same time, he was in the midst of obtaining a majority stake in Enochian. The indictment alleges that any complications surrounding the oil deal would have jeopardized him obtaining a majority stake in Enochian.
Razzle dazzle them: Gumrukcu performing magic tricks in Turkey in 2002
Banks, the hitman who is charged with posing as the US Marshal, is friends with Aron Ethridge, a friend of Berk Eratay who worked for Gumrukcu.
Ethridge has confessed his role in the plot and is expected to testify against the three other men. He said he was hired by Eratay and Gumrukcu to ‘find someone to ‘murder Davis and that he enlisted Banks to kill Davis.’
Between June and October 2017, bank records reveal Gumrukcu sent Eratay $150,000. Eratay withdrew the cash ‘in increments of $9,000 – $1,000 below the $10,000 currency reporting requirement.’
The proffer claims he has a ‘documented history’ of fraud that includes him being arrested and charged in 2017 with felony fraud.
Gumrukcu defrauded a Turkish investor out of almost $1million in a real estate investment. He told the investor that he was spending the funds on purchasing and renovating a Los Angeles home, when in fact he was spending the money on other matters.
‘Gumrukcu also provided the investor with bogus documents, supposedly prepared by an attorney. The other alleged fraud scheme in the state case involved bounced checks connected to his dealings with Davis’.
The proffer also says he pleaded guilty in January 2019 to one count of felony fraud, then modified it into a misdemeanor – something that is possible under California law.
The 39-year-old poses with F1 tycoon Bernie Ecclestone, left, and Count Gaddo Cardini of Italy
Gumrukcu with Dame Helen Mirren in another photo from his Instagram feed. He is facing life in prison for conspiracy to commit murder
Gumrukcu with Boy George and film producer Cindy Cowan in a 2017 photo from his Facebook
Charmed life: Prosecutors said Gumrukcu is a huge flight risk given his money and foreign ties
The 39-year-old’s $5million home in Hollywood, where he was living with his husband
The documents also claim he was arrested in Turkey in 2012 for fraud, but fled the country while the case was pending.
‘He has remained outside Turkey since then, avoiding that prosecution.’
‘In 2020, he successfully sought to dismiss the Turkish case from outside the country. In spite of his failure, he chose not to return to face the charges’.
Prosecutors, in their case against bail, said he was a clear flight risk.
Enochian’s share price has plummeted since news of the founder’s arrest
Gumrukcu’s attorney maintains that he is innocent. He is in custody pending his next court appearance
‘Common sense suggests that Gumrukcu would hide or flee rather than spend the rest of his life in jail or face the death penalty. Put simply, a wealthy citizen of a foreign country charged with murder should be detained pending trial,’ they argued.
The judge agreed and held him in custody pending his next court date.
Enochian has tried to distance itself from him since his arrest.
In a letter to shareholders earlier this month, CEO Mark Dybul tried to assuage fears by claiming the allegations were a ‘smear campaign’ launched by short-sellers trying to profit from the company’s woes.
Shares of Enochian fell from $5.88 to $3.76 after news of Gumrukcu’s arrest broke. Gumrukcu has been held in custody pending his next court date.