BULLETIN: Purported ‘Sovereign Citizen,’ 71, Charged In Alleged Murder-For-Hire Plot Against Federal Judge In Texas
Phillip Monroe Ballard, 71, already was jailed at the Fort Worth Federal Correctional Institution when he solicited the killing of U.S. District Judge John McBryde, the office of U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas said.
Ballard was to go on trial today before McBryde, prosecutors said. He now has been charged with soliciting the judge’s murder.
Last month, according to the FBI, the agency received information from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FCI Fort Worth) that Ballard was talking about having McBryde killed so a new judge would be assigned.
On Sept. 9, according to the FBI, Ballard was in the prison’s “day room” with other inmates and “talking about his belief in being a sovereign citizen,” claiming that “he is immune from all the laws of the United States.”
One of Ballard’s fellow inmates reported that Ballard had “approached him about killing McBryde,” federal prosecutors said.
That inmate agreed to become a “cooperating source,” according to the FBI.
Because Ballard feared McBryde would sentence him to 20 years, Ballard proposed a plan by which the judge would be murdered with a “high-powered rifle” outside the federal courthouse or with a car bomb.
The informant told Ballard he could help arrange the judge’s murder and have “a guy on the outside” carry out the lethal crime, according to the FBI.
Ballard offered $100,000 for the contract, provided the informant a “hand-written map” of the external courthouse and emailed his sister to send $5,000 to an address in Oklahoma, the FBI said.
That address was the address set up by the FBI as part of its sting, and the $5,000 was the down payment on the judge’s murder, the FBI said.
McBryde has recused himself from the tax trial, which has been postponed, federal prosecutors said.