Fairbanks Man Sentenced to 77 Months in Federal Prison in Murder-for-Hire Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 17, 2014|
ANCHORAGE—U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that a Fairbanks man has been sentenced in federal court for two counts of using interstate commerce facilities in furtherance of a murder-for-hire scheme. Eric Donald Grabber, age 57, was sentenced today by Chief United States District Court Judge Ralph R. Beistline to 77 months in prison for his involvement in efforts to have a man in Indiana murdered.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Bottini, who prosecuted the case, Grabber was indicted by a federal grand jury in January 2013 for causing another individual to travel in interstate commerce from Alaska to Indiana in furtherance of the scheme and for making an interstate telephone call for the same purpose. The investigation in this case established that Grabber sought to hire a hitman in Fairbanks to murder Indiana resident George Cole. The individual recruited by Grabber went to the Federal Bureau of Investigation resident agency in Fairbanks and reported the plot to agents. This individual thereafter cooperated in the investigation and recorded conversations with Grabber detailing the plot to murder Cole.
During the investigation, Grabber paid this individual a $20,000 deposit on the agreed murder price of $40,000 and had the individual travel from Fairbanks to Indiana in what Grabber believed was an effort to locate and murder Cole. When the individual advised Grabber that he had been unable to locate the intended victim, Grabber called Cole from Alaska in an effort to ascertain his whereabouts. The investigation revealed that the motive for the murder was Grabber’s belief that Cole had cheated him out of a financial investment. Grabber also held a life insurance policy on Cole for which Grabber was the beneficiary. Grabber pled guilty in August 2013 to both counts of the indictment.
In sentencing Grabber, Chief Judge Beistline commented that this case presented a bizarre set of circumstances in that other than his involvement this case, Grabber had been a law abiding citizen and a successful businessman. Judge Beistline also noted that Cole, the intended murder victim, is a lifelong friend of Grabber and that Cole had actually travelled to Fairbanks to speak at the sentencing hearing on Grabber’s behalf. While addressing the court at sentencing, Grabber turned to his intended victim and said, “George, I did pay a confidential informant money to murder you.”
Ms. Loeffler commends the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and the Alaska State Troopers for the investigation of this case.