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UTICA, NEW YORK: Man Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Murder-for-Hire Scheme

UTICA, NEW YORK – Christopher Pence, age 43, of Cedar City, Utah, was sentenced yesterday to 84 months in prison for using the Internet to solicit and pay for the murders of two Rensselaer County residents.

United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Craig L. Tremaroli, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), made the announcement.

As part of his previously entered guilty plea, Pence admitted that between July 16 and August 9, 2021, from his computer at his home in Utah, he accessed a “darknet” website dedicated to arranging contract killings.  Through the website, Pence arranged for the murder of two residents of Hoosick Falls, New York, and paid a website administrator approximately $16,000 worth of Bitcoin to facilitate the murders.  Pence then provided the website administrator with the names, addresses, and photographs of the intended victims, instructed the administrator to make the murders look like an accident or botched robbery, and requested that care be taken not to harm any of the children who resided with the victims. 

The intended victims were not harmed and the FBI arrested Pence in Utah on October 27, 2021.  He has remained in federal custody since that time.  Following his arrest, Pence told investigators that he solicited the murders of the victims because of the fraught relationship between his family and the victims following Pence’s family’s adoption of several of the victims’ children.

United States District Judge David N. Hurd also ordered Pence to serve a 3-year term of supervised release following his release from prison.

The FBI investigated this case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Emmet J. O’Hanlon prosecuted this case.

Updated April 5, 2024

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