Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Case of John F. Berger (AKA: Tuviah Berger), St. Louis, Missouri

Man charged in 'date rape'

On the night of April 7, 2002, Tressa Gross, just a month away from graduating from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, was out with friends, ending up at an apartment near Washington Avenue downtown.

By the next day, Gross, 26, was dead, of an overdose.

On Tuesday, more than four years later, federal authorities said they had determined who was responsible: John F. Berger, 36, of the 400 block of Washington. A federal indictment alleged that Berger had given Gross the "date rape" drug, causing her death.

U.S. Attorney Catherine L. Hanaway provided photos of Berger in a bid to find witnesses or potential victims. Hanaway said investigators believe there may be other victims because Berger frequently went out.

Hanaway said that on the night of Gross' death, Berger had been at the Washington Avenue clubs and then went to the same party as Gross. She ingested the drug at the apartment and died within hours — either before or shortly after emergency workers arrived, Hanaway said. Police later found the drug in a cup at the apartment, Hanaway said.

In July 2002, the St. Louis medical examiner determined that the cause of death was an overdose of the date rape drug.

Hanaway said investigators were still looking at whether Gross was sexually assaulted.

The drug Berger is accused of using, 1.4-butanediol, converts to Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, or GHB, in the body. GHB is colorless, odorless and tasteless. It depresses the central nervous system and can cause drowsiness, nausea, loss of inhibition, amnesia and hallucinations. At higher does, it can cause unconsciousness, seizures, breathing trouble or death.

Preston Grubbs, special agent in charge of the DEA's St. Louis office, said investigators still are working to identify the source of the drug.

Berger turned himself in Monday and was released on $50,000 bond. He was indicted last week on charges of possession with intent to distribute 1.4 butanediol with a resulting death, possession with intent to distribute 1.4 butanediol for human consumption, cocaine distribution and possession with intent to distribute 1.4 butanediol for human consumption with death resulting.

Berger could face 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $4 million if convicted.

Berger could not be reached for comment at his home or the real estate investment company where he is listed as working. A call to his workplace was returned by Berger's lawyer, John Rogers.

Rogers said Berger would plead not guilty today in federal court in St. Louis.

"Obviously, it's our position that John is innocent of all charges, and we think it's a mistake that he's been charged in this case," Rogers said.

Berger is single and does not have any children, court documents say. He spent part of 2003 and 2004 in Israel and Ukraine, according to his personal website, He is listed as owner or agent of several current or defunct companies on various websites or in public documents.

Berger filed for bankruptcy last year, saying he had no income between 2003 and 2005 and few assets other than a 1980 Yamaha motorcycle and a 1989 Jaguar XJS. Berger owed almost $100,000, including credit card charges and a civil judgment of more than $35,000.

Gross' mother filed a wrongful death suit against Berger and another man in 2005, alleging that the men drugged and sexually molested Gross between April 6 and 7, 2002, and knew or should have known that the drugs could cause her death. The suit, which asked for more than $10 million, was dismissed in March because the defendants were never served with the suit.

The other man named in the suit has not been criminally charged and could not be reached for comment.

Berger has a criminal record, according to federal court documents: a marijuana charge while he was in college in Madison, Wis., and a 2003 cocaine possession charge in St. Louis. The St. Louis charge was dropped in July 2003 after Berger went through drug court.

Hanaway would not comment about the delay between Gross' death and charges. Rogers said that he understood that the St. Louis circuit attorney's office was investigating the case but did not have enough evidence to file charges.

Jeannette Graviss, chief warrant officer of the St. Louis circuit attorney's office, said there was no record indicating that the office ever formally looked at the case.

Gross' mother, Sandy Murray, of St. Louis County, would not comment on the case, but she said she was relieved at the charges. "I've been so frustrated these past four years," she said. "And I hope justice will be served."

Gross' cousin, Stephanie Cates, described Gross as fun-loving, caring and charismatic. "She'd walk into a room and it would just glow," Cates said Tuesday.

Cates said Gross went from Fox High School in Arnold to the Navy. After completing her service, she lived in St. Louis and went to SIUE, majoring in mass communications. She was planning on going into advertising, Cates said. | 314-621-5154


Anonymous Anonymous said...

get your facts straight. theres no reason to post his hebrew name. Thats tacky and shameless. Hes never gone by the name Tuvia. What he did was terrible, and hes been trying to make amends for the last 6 years.

February 24, 2008 12:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then why does he have "Tuvia" listed on his website? As for him trying to make amends for the last 6 years, that's a joke. Look on his website and see how he's traveled the world - doesn't look like he's tried to make amends at all. Being locked up now for 5 years is a small price to pay for taking a life - His sentence should have life with no parole. He's one sick person.

February 25, 2008 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the URL to his website?

Exactly what was the result of his court case? I can find no reference to it on the Web anywhere.

Is he currently in prison?

March 25, 2008 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is currently in Clayton jail and awaits sentencing on April 4th, 2008 for anyone who wants to contest this lousy 3 or 5 year sentence. Please any of you girls that have been date raped by him come forward with the others as soon as possible. This date rape drug causes amnesia so it is so hard to prove.

March 26, 2008 3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where can I find information on his court case, and the date, time and location of his sentencing?

I don't understand the 3 or 5 year sentencing you mention. This sounds like a sentence for involuntary manslaughter.

Thank you for the information.

March 27, 2008 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JOHN BERGER NEVER Date Raped Anyone!!!!! The fact that he is in jail at all is bull shit! Everything writen about him is Faulse! I am Johns girlfriend and it makes me sick to know that John is looked at by all you people as a bad man! He is not!!!

April 01, 2008 8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one will be coming forward to say John disrespcted them in anyway! Because he never has!

April 01, 2008 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To John's current girlfriend - I sympathize with you because you apparently care a great deal about him. But the facts are he pled guilty on 4 felony drug counts, and will be sentenced this Friday, April 4th (at 2:30PM), to 5 years in prison. By all social standards, this makes John a bad person. And I say this knowing John personally, having liked and respected him once upon a time. Going back at least 10 years, John selected a path of drugs over common sense. I don't know if he ever sexually assaulted Tressa Gross or anyone else, but he did cause her death .... as evidenced by his guilty plea. Five years is a very short prison term, and he'll be able to continue on with his life, with or without you, but Tressa Gross is gone forever. I hear no sympathy from you for her family and friends.

April 02, 2008 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just because someone pleads guilty does not mean that they are. I personally know this. When a case is like this, there are often threats from the prosecuting attorney. My fiance was threatened with 10-15 years unless he took the plea of 37 months. Why risk it? If you do not have a family member that goes through the legal process, you have no idea of the BS that is included with it.
This man's name is ruined and he will have to deal with this for the rest of his life regardless if he is guilty or not. Have a little compassion. You can never know how situations like this feel until you go through it.

June 15, 2008 8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Berger doesn't have girlfriends. He hates women. I've known him since he was 16, and I was 15, and it's always been the same. Something in him is wrong, and a woman died. If there would have been a stronger case against him he would have been locked up earlier, and for longer. The whole thing is a shame.

November 29, 2008 1:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one should feel sorry for him. He got of easy. His shady lifestyle and dealings finally caught up to him. If it wasn't for his connections and money he probably be serving 20 years. I just hope he learned his lesson.

November 29, 2008 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have known John for a few years and have family that is very close with him. I think its very sad that he is doing time for a crime he did not commit. I hope that he gets out early.

January 03, 2009 8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Berger is scum. I met him while he was out and always had a bad feeling. This was while he after the killing. I knew something wasn't right with this loser. I hope he suffers worse fates than those he imposed on that poor girl. No doubt this isn't the first time he did this.

December 23, 2010 7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last time I checked, arson, rape and murder were the three big crimes. 2 out of 3 ain't bad, tuviah/john/nom de plume.

February 07, 2011 1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Within each of us dwells good and evil. If John allowed the "evil" to take over at an earlier time in his life.. The question now after all this time is does "evil" still have control? If so, he will repeat his behavior and won't get away with it again. If he has been "reformed".. If he has changed.. He deserves a chance to live his life...He deserves that chance. There was no "premeditation" involved. Berger was suffering from sexual/drug addiction at the time of his "alleged" offense. People can recover from addiction. One of the greatest flaws of an addict is "ego". The second is a need for control. If he has the addict under control.. He then has the flaws under control.. Only time will tell.

June 15, 2012 9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have known him since sunday school and even at that very young age, I thought something was different about him to which I stayed clear of my eyes he was a bit of an ass and also seemed to look for attention. This whole case did not surprise me one bit, sorry to say.

August 15, 2012 10:03 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home