An FBI special agent alleges in a Sept. 27 criminal complaint that federal prisoner Phillip Monroe Ballard was willing to pay $100,000 in cash to have U.S. District Judge John McBryde of Fort Worth killed. Ballard is in prison awaiting trial for allegedly filing false tax returns, FBI agent Edward R. Quintana Jr. states in the complaint.
The government has charged Ballard with “solicitation to commit a crime of violence” but he has not been indicted, according to a document on the Public Access to Court Electronic Records system.
As alleged in the complaint in United States v. Ballard, which was unsealed on Oct. 1, Ballard met with an unnamed cooperating source (CS) and indicated he is a sovereign citizen who believes he is immune from all of the laws of the United States. “Ballard mentioned that his court case was assigned to Judge McBryde and he believes the judge will sentence him to over 20 years in prison,” Quintana alleges in the complaint. “Ballard stated he would be willing to pay the CS $100,000 in cash to have Judge McBryde killed so that his case would be transferred to another judge.”
Quintana alleges that Ballard was specific in how he wanted McBryde killed: “Ballard told the CS to have the ‘killer’ position himself within the Burnett Plaza Building located across the street from the Federal Courthouse in Fort Worth. Ballard stated from that vantage point the killer could shoot the judge as he enters the courthouse with a high-powered rifle affixed with a scope.” Ballard allegedly handed a handwritten map of the buildings to the CS, Quintana alleges. “Ballard also told the CS that if that plan does not work, then the killer can plant a bomb in the judge’s vehicle,” Quintana alleges in the complaint.
On Sept. 26, the CS allegedly met with Ballard “and presented him with a handwritten letter drafted by an FBI Agent posing as the ‘killer.’ The letter, which included the contact information of an Undercover FBI Agent, indicated that the ‘work,’ meaning the murder of the judge, will be complete upon receipt of $5,000,” Quintana alleges in the complaint.
McBryde, who has recused himself from Ballard’s tax case, declines comment.
Warren St. John, a Fort Worth solo who represents Ballard, did not return a telephone call seeking comment. Kathy Colvin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, declines to comment.
A federal judge in Texas has been killed before. In 1979, U.S. District Judge John H. Wood Jr. of the Western District of Texas was murdered outside his San Antonio home and the killer was convicted.
The U.S. District Courthouse in San Antonio is now named for Wood.