FBI: Inmate Tried to Kill Federal Judge

"Hit man" was undercover agent, feds say

By Scott Gordon
|  Monday, Oct 1, 2012  |  Updated 4:29 PM CDT
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FBI: Inmate Tried to Kill Federal Judge

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Close up of judge raising gavel in courtroom

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A tax protester locked up in federal prison in Fort Worth arranged to pay $100,000 to kill the judge presiding over his case, but the “hit man” he hired was an undercover FBI agent, according to a criminal complaint.

Phillip Monroe Ballard, 71, of Arlington, is charged with trying to hire the agent to assassinate U.S. District Judge John McBryde.
Ballard’s case on tax charges was set to start before McBryde on Monday.
Worried the judge would give him a long prison sentence, Ballard approached another inmate in the “day room” on Sept. 12 at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Worth about the murder. The other inmate went to authorities and later introduced Ballard to an undercover agent posing as the hit man, the complaint said.
Ballard gave detailed instructions on how to carry out the murder with a high-powered rifle from a location near the federal courthouse in Fort Worth, according to the complaint.
In March 2011, Ballard was charged with presenting himself as an attorney and a tax advisor and helping others file false income tax returns, according to his indictment last year.
In one case outlined in the indictment, Ballard is accused of helping the owner of a construction company hide $4 million from the IRS through a church he had set up called American Heritage Church, or Chapel of Light Ministries.
After the new charges, Judge McBryde recused himself from the case.

Ballard's attorney, J. Warren St. John of Fort Worth, had no comment.

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