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Utah man sentenced for darknet murder-for-hire plot in New York

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  • Staff Report 

Christopher Pence of Cedar City, Utah, has been sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to hiring a hitman to kill two individuals in New York. Utilizing a darknet site, Pence attempted to orchestrate the murders of two Rensselaer County residents, offering $16,000 in Bitcoin for the act. The FBI’s swift intervention ensured the intended victims remained unharmed, leading to Pence’s arrest in October 2021.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Pence’s motivations stemmed from a complex family dispute involving the adoption of children, leading him to seek fatal retribution against the victims. His efforts to disguise the planned murders as accidents or botched robberies were detailed in his instructions to the hitman, emphasizing the non-harm of children residing with the victims.

Following his prison term, United States District Judge David N. Hurd has mandated a three-year supervised release for Pence. This case, investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emmet J. O’Hanlon, underscores the severe consequences of leveraging the internet for criminal intentions, particularly through the anonymity offered by darknet platforms.