FORT WORTH -- An Arlington man in federal custody, accused of filing false tax returns, was charged Monday with trying to hire a hit man to kill U.S. District Judge John McBryde, authorities said.Phillip Monroe Ballard, 71, had been scheduled to go on trial Monday on tax charges.Another federal inmate and an FBI agent posing as the hit man thwarted the plot last week, federal officials said Monday in a news release.Ballard had asked the inmate for help finding a hit man."Ballard stated that he'd pay the inmate $100,000 cash" to kill McBryde, the news release from the U.S. attorney's office stated.The other inmate tipped off federal agents Sept. 12.The inmate told agents that he and Ballard talked in a day room at FCI Fort Worth prison. Ballard claimed to be a sovereign citizen and therefore immune from all laws of the United States.If he were found guilty of the tax charges, Ballard believed McBryde would sentence him to the maximum 20 years in prison, federal agents said in the complaint.The inmate told Ballard that he knew someone who could kill the judge. Later that day, Ballard asked the inmate to be his cellmate and continued to discuss plans to kill McBryde, federal agents said.The plan called for the "killer" to position himself within Burnett Plaza, across from the federal courthouse in Fort Worth, arm himself with a high-powered rifle with a scope and shoot McBryde when he entered, according to a federal criminal complaint. If that didn't work, Ballard wanted the killer to plant a bomb in the judge's vehicle.On Sept. 26, the inmate gave Ballard a handwritten letter drafted by an FBI agent posing as the killer, the complaint stated. The letter, which included how to contact the hit man, stated that the work would be completed upon receipt of $5,000. Later that day, Ballard called the undercover FBI agent four times and told him that he would be sending the money, according to the complaint.The next day, Ballard sent an e-mail message to his sister directing her to send the $5,000 to an Oklahoma address that had been provided by the undercover FBI agent.The case for which Ballard faced trial involved accusations that he "presented himself as an attorney providing tax advice and service for hire in the Dallas-Fort Worth area," according to a federal indictment filed in March 2011.Also, Ballard filed false tax documents and set up a bogus corporation and even a church to conceal the income of a client identified only as "D.B.," according to the indictment.D.B. operated DFW-area drywall businesses, which Ballard represented from 1995 to 2005. The government claims that D.B. made $4 million between 1999 and 2004, but Ballard filed documents, including tax forms 1040A, that reported "zero taxable income."If convicted of the federal murder-for-hire charge, Ballard faces a maximum 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763; Twitter: @mingoramirezjr.