Jury Convicts Inmate In Murder For Hire Plot Against Federal Judge
FORT WORTH, Texas - Phillip Monroe Ballard, 72, of Fort Worth, has been convicted in the attempted murder for hire of a federal judge in Texas, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas. The verdict was returned this afternoon after approximately two days of trial and less than an hour of deliberation.
From on or about Sept. 9, 2012 and continuing through Sep. 27, 2012, Ballard solicited the murder for hire of a U.S. District Judge in the Northern District of Texas. During trial, the jury heard from four government witnesses, one of whom was an informant who testified he had developed a friendship with Ballard as they both were in custody on unrelated criminal matters. He stated that Ballard had asked him if he would help him arrange the shooting death of the judge, who was presiding over his federal tax case. They eventually negotiated a price of $100,000.
The informant reported the incident to authorities and the plot was foiled before any harm came to the judge.
Ballard’s defense claimed he never had any actual intent to kill the judge. The jury disagreed and convicted him as charged.
U.S. District Judge Donald E Walter from the Western District of Louisiana presided over trial. He has set sentencing for March 2014 in Fort Worth, at which time Ballard faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Ballard will remain in custody pending that hearing.
The case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark McIntyre and Craig Feazel from the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.