News and Press Releases

Murder for Hire Plot Against Judge Lands Septuagenarian a 20-Year Sentence

March 17, 2014

DALLAS, Texas - Phillip Monroe Ballard, 72, of Fort Worth, has been ordered to federal prison for 20 years following his conviction in the attempted murder for hire of a federal judge in Texas, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas. Ballard was convicted by a federal jury Dec. 11, 2013, after approximately two days of trial and less than an hour of deliberation.

U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter from the Western District of Louisiana presided over the trial and sentencing today. At the hearing, additional evidence was presented including evidence that Ballard was originally indicted on tax charges and was known to use aliases in order to perpetrate his fraudulent tax schemes. Judge Walter ordered Ballard to serve a total of 240 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release.

According to evidence presented at trial, 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. 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.

Ballard will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

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.

 

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