Crime and Justice

Burlington man accused in murder-for-hire plot in another, unnamed country

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Sean “Marcus” Fiore faces charges in federal court in Burlington of murder-for-hire and child pornography. Photo by Bob LoCicero/VTDigger

A Burlington man already facing child pornography offenses has now been charged in an overseas murder-for-hire plot. Prosecutors allege that, for $4,000, he received a video showing the torturing and apparent killing of a person he wanted dead. 

Sean “Marcus” Fiore, 36, was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on charges of intent to commit murder for hire, conspiracy to kidnap and murder an overseas person, and child pornography. 

Fiore is in custody at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans. No arraignment date has been set yet. 

Among the unanswered questions:

  • Who is the second person charged in the alleged murder scheme? That person’s identity has not been disclosed; authorities sometimes withhold an identity if the suspect is still on the loose.
  • Where did the alleged murder occur? It was in another country, but the indictment does not state which country. That information could be in the court documents, but redacted.
  • Who was killed? The indictment doesn’t say. Authorities said a video of the alleged murder was sent to Fiore by his co-defendant, an “unidentified male outside the United States.”

Christina Nolan, the U.S. attorney for Vermont, announced the charges in a news release issued Tuesday afternoon. Nolan, through a spokesperson, declined further comment.

Asked why the indictment uses the words “apparent killing,” the spokesperson again replied that the office wouldn’t comment further. 

Maryanne Kampmann, Fiore’s attorney, could not immediately be reached Tuesday for comment. 

David Sleigh, a St. Johnsbury criminal defense attorney not connected to the case, said from his reading of the nine-page indictment, it wasn’t clear if a person was actually killed. 

“They have not identified anybody who is actually dead,” Sleigh said.

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If a person was killed, he said, a conviction could carry the possibility of the death penalty.

As for withholding the name of the co-defendant, Sleigh that could be because authorities haven’t located the person to make an arrest, or that person could be cooperating with the prosecution.

The murder-for-hire case against Fiore appeared to build after his arrest May 19, 2019, when his residence was raided as part of “Operation Bada Bing” by Homeland Security investigators and the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. 

That operation involved the searches of multiple residences in Vermont in the spring of 2019; a total of eight people, including Fiore, were charged with child pornography offenses

Fiore was arrested on the day his home was raided, May 19, 2019. Prosecutors said that was the day he was  to graduate from the University of Vermont with a degree as a nurse practitioner. 

Fiore was initially charged on a single count of possessing child pornography and was later released on conditions. In May of this year, Fiore was taken into custody for allegedly violating his conditions of release. 

Additional search warrants have since been executed, including one at a residence in Brookfield. 

In August, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Fiore with using a cellphone and the internet with the intent that a murder be committed for money. The most recent indictment returned Tuesday outlines the alleged plot in greater detail, though key pieces seem to be under wraps. 

The charge of conspiracy to kidnap and murder alleges that Fiore, while in Vermont, asked a person in another country to make a video for him, showing the beating, torture and killing of a man.  

Fiore communicated with the person he asked to do the killing by email and through the WhatsApp social media platform, the indictment charges, providing specific instructions for his co-defendant on what the video should show, including how he wanted the man to be tortured. Among the alleged instructions: hit and kick the kidnapped man, burn his face with a lit cigarette, fill his mouth with body waste, and then wrap his head in a plastic bag and sit on his face “for at least seven minutes, or until he died.”  Fiore is accused of sending about $4,000 to the co-defendant to carry out the killing.

On April 8, 2019, authorities allege, Fiore received an email with a link to the video, whose title translates to “Movie death of a slave (1 hour)”.

“It depicted the torture and apparent killing of an adult male who was restrained and tied to a bed,” court documents allege. 

The latest indictment also added three more child pornography counts against Fiore, including one alleging he and his co-defendant “produced and attempted to produce” a video of minors engaged in sex acts. 

Prosecuting the case are Barbara Masterson, an assistant U.S. attorney in Vermont, and Mona Sahaf, a trial attorney with the Department of Justice’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section.

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Alan J. Keays

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