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Press Release

Utah Man Pleads Guilty to Murder-for-Hire Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Christopher Pence, age 43, of Cedar City, Utah, pled guilty today to 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.

Pence admitted that between July 16 and August 9, 2021, from his Internet-connected computer at his home in Utah, he accessed a website on the Darknet 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, address and photographs of the intended victims, instructed the administrator to make the murder 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.

Pence faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years when he is sentenced by United States District Judge David N. Hurd in Utica, New York, on April 2, 2024.  A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

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

Updated December 6, 2023

Violent Crime