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Friday, June 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Texan Gets 20 Years|for Plot to Kill a Judge

FORT WORTH (CN) - An elderly Texas inmate was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for the attempted murder-for-hire of a federal judge in his tax evasion case.

Phillip Monroe Ballard, 72, of Fort Worth, was sentenced Tuesday.

He was convicted by a federal jury on Dec. 11, 2013 after a two-day trial and less than an hour of deliberation.

The jury was not persuaded by Ballard's insistence that he never had any intent to kill the judge.

Prosecutors argued that Ballard told a federal inmate he believed U.S. District Judge John McBryde would sentence him to more than 20 years in prison and told him he wanted the judge killed so the case would be transferred.

Ballard made the solicitation one month before his tax evasion trial was to begin in October 2012, the indictment states.

A confidential source said 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 said Ballard asked him if he would arrange the judge's killing and that they eventually settled on a price of $100,000.

A sister of Ballard's was to make the payment, the informant said. Ballard advised 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. He even provided a contingency plan, allegedly telling the inmate to have a bomb planted in the judge's vehicle. About two weeks later, the inmate gave Ballard a handwritten letter from an undercover agent posing as the contract killer, which included contact information and notice that the "work" would be completed upon receipt of $5,000.

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