10 Years for Trying to Kill an Attorney

      FORT WORTH (CN) – The owner of a defunct strip club was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for trying to hire Mexican hit men to kill the mayor of Arlington and a Dallas attorney.
     Ryan Walker Grant, 34, of Kennedale, also was fined $17,500 on Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in announcing his sentence.
     Grant pleaded guilty to one count of murder-for-hire in September 2012.
     Grant was co-owner of Flashdancer, a strip club within 2 miles of the heart of the entertainment district, which includes Cowboys Stadium, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Six Flags over Texas and the Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park.
     After the city and the Texas Attorney General’s Office filed a nuisance complaint that resulted in the closure of the club, Grant tried to hire hit men to kill Mayor Robert Cluck and Dallas attorney Tom Brandt, who represented the city in cases against sexually oriented businesses.
     “Grant was angry at the men because he felt that they were costing him money by trying to prevent him from re-opening Flashdancer,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in the statement.
     Grant offered to pay $10,000 per murder victim, prosecutors said. Grant and an intermediary spoke on cell phones several times, and told the intermediary not to proceed with the murders until they could meet to discuss it.
     “On April 9, 2012, the intermediary and Grant met at Grant’s residence, where Grant confirmed that he wanted Mayor Cluck killed,” prosecutors said. “The intermediary left Grant’s residence and Grant was arrested shortly thereafter.”
     A search warrant was after executed at Grant’s home, where 22 firearms and nearly $150,000 in cash was seized.
     “I messed up,” Grant said during his sentencing on Tuesday.
     He said he would use his time in prison to “make himself a better person,” according to WFAA-TV.
     Mayor Cluck told reporters outside of the courtroom that he felt “relieved.”
     “We’ve been dealing with this for months,” he said. “I firmly believe I would have been dead the day the FBI came to see me, because he was planning on doing it either that day or the next day.”
     Grant was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John McBryde, who allegedly was the target of a similar murder-for-hire plot last year.
     Federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint in October against Phillip Monroe Ballard, 71, who allegedly offered $100,000 in cash for McBryde’s murder.
     Prosecutors said Ballard, who was in jail, approached a fellow inmate in September, told him he believed McBryde would sentence him to more than 20 years in prison for a pending tax case, and said he wanted the judge killed so the case would be transferred to another judge.
     A confidential source said that on Sept. 12, Ballard “began talking about his belief in being a sovereign citizen,” and that “as a sovereign citizen, he is immune from all laws of the United States.”
     The inmate then allegedly told Ballard that he knew someone outside of prison who would perform the murder.
     “Ballard continued to advise the other inmate that he wanted Judge McBryde killed and provided him with detailed instructions, such as how it could be done with a high-powered rifle and scope,” prosecutors said in a statement in October. “Ballard told him that he would pay him $100,000 in cash after the judge is dead.”
     Ballard told the inmate to position the shooter in Burnett Plaza Building, directly across from the Eldon B. Mahon U.S. Courthouse in downtown Fort Worth, according to the criminal complaint.

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