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Texas ‘Sovereign’ Charged in Murder-for-Hire Scheme Targeting Judge

By Don Terry on October 2, 2012 - 4:04 pm, Posted in Extremist Crime, Patriot Groups, Sovereign Citizens

If you can’t beat them in court, kill them in the street.

At least that seems to have been the legal strategy of an elderly Texas tax protester and suspected “sovereign citizen,” who authorities charged Monday with trying to hire a hit man to kill the federal judge presiding over his upcoming trial for filing false tax returns.

Phillip Monroe Ballard, 71, was already in federal custody, awaiting trial, when, authorities say, he offered to pay an assassin $100,000 cash – presumably tax-free – to shoot or blow up U.S. District Judge John McBryde of the Northern District of Texas.

As it turned out, the hit man was a G-man, an undercover federal agent posing as a killer for hire, according a press statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Fort Worth.

Ballard, according to the authorities, was fearful that if convicted of the tax charges, Judge McBryde would sentence him to more than 20 years in prison. He wanted McBryde killed so his case would be transferred to another judge.

He had reason to worry.

According to The Dallas Morning News, Ballard, who represented himself as a lawyer, helped the owner of a drywall business hide income by filing false tax returns on his behalf from 1997 to 2005. Ballard even created a “sham church” called Chapel of Light Ministries for the client to hide his income, the paper quoted court records saying.

The Texan’s alleged tax dodges appear to be straight out of the handbook of the fast-growing sovereign citizen movement, that wacky but sometimes deadly subculture of tax resisters, cheats and right wing extremists. Sovereign citizens generally believe that federal tax, criminal and other laws do not apply to them.

For the most part, though, sovereigns use paper and not bullets to avoid paying taxes. As the Intelligence Report noted in a 2010 cover story about the movement, “While a normal criminal case docket might have 60 to 70 entries, many involving sovereigns have as many as 1,200. The courts are struggling to keep up, and judges, prosecutors and public defenders are being swamped.”

But a few sovereigns have gone from lawsuits to gun battles. Since 2010, suspected sovereigns have killed four law enforcement officers in Arkansas and Louisiana.

According to federal authorities in Texas, Ballard was headed down that path.

He allegedly approached a fellow inmate at the FCI Fort Worth and told him about his legal troubles and his desire to have the judge killed. The inmate, who was working as a confidential source for the FBI, told Ballard that he knew just the guy on the outside who could do it.

Ballard allegedly provided the informant with detailed instructions on how the hit should be carried out with a high-powered rifle. If that failed, Ballard had a contingency plan. He said Plan B was for the killer to plant a bomb in the judge’s car, the authorities said.

Ballard promised to send the killer the $100,000 once the judge was dead.

The inmate informant gave Ballard a handwritten letter from the phony killer, outlining his terms. The “work,” the letter said, would be completed upon receipt of $5,000.

Ballard agreed and called the “hit man” four times on Sept. 26; the following day, Ballard directed that the $5,000 payment be sent to the address specified by the undercover agent, the authorities said.

Ballard’s tax trial, which was scheduled to begin Monday, has been postponed and Judge McBryde has recused himself from the case.

So Ballard got his wish. He will have a new judge in his tax case — and in his new case as well.

If convicted, the maximum statutory sentence for the charge murder-for-hire of an officer of the United States is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“These things fortunately usually come unraveled, as this one did,” the Dallas/Fort Worth CBS affiliate quoted former U.S. Attorney for Northern Texas Paul Coggins as saying about the plot. “You talk about turning a very bad situation for a defendant into a much worse situation. This is a much more serious crime.”

  • Kiwiwriter

    I always crack up when I hear the code words “International Banking Cartel,” used to cover up anti-Semitism.

    They can’t publicly admit that they’re just bitter, conspiracy theory racists. They know they’re wrong, so they have to cover it up.

    Come up with something original, NWOSlave. I’ve been reading nonsense about “International Banking Cartels” and the Jews all my life….those lies are older than the California Redwoods. Sadly, just as survivable.

  • Beverly Kurtin, Ph.D.

    Death and Taxes. The two inevitable things which none of us can escape (lawfully). As one of the despised (by Romney and Party) 47% who pays no income taxes because she is RETIRED and receiving the Social Security benefits for which I PAID over 50 years, I do not earn enough to pay INCOME taxes. But, like the rest of us, except for the couple of states that don’t have them, I pay SALES TAXES. I pay the same amount as a billionaire has to pay. Do I mind? No, not really.
    Although I could get away without paying sales taxes on various high cost items by having my brother in Oregon purchase it for me (and then pay the shipping costs) but I prefer to purchase LOCALLY and help my city and state do what they must do.
    Libraries are not free, neither are the police and fire protections I enjoy, so why not chip in and help pay for them?
    Freedom and liberty are NOT free! As citizens of this glorious country, we should be proud to support our local businesses and cities and towns and state.
    Am I a nut? No. I am a CITIZEN of the United States of America and the State of Texas and as a CITIZEN, it is my responsibility to do the right things in order to remain free.
    As far as the “Joos” owning the banks, etc. that is a crock of male bovine excrement! Virtually ALL banks are owned by the stock holders of those banks, not individuals. The “Joos” are not some mysterious bunch of people who are all wealthy and are out to control the world. They are just ordinary people like anyone else with the exception of their religion–a religion that is over 3,500 years old. They have provided the world with incredible scientific, medical, and social benefits that all humanity has enjoyed.
    The Jewish State of Israel (which does not discriminate against non-Jews, any person may become a citizen regardless of their religious or ethnic background) has created life-saving inventions, such as the coronary artery stent to name just one, and the ONLY radiation free mammogram. The medical and scientific benefits the Jewish people have given the world is incredible. Stop picking on them.
    In closing, I paid income taxes up the yang when I was working. My “reward?” My life’s savings were destroyed when the banks and Wall Street screwed all of us, so now all I have is my Social Security. AND I EARNED EVERY SINGLE PENNY THAT I RECEIVE.

  • MiddleAmericaMS

    As an ex-Ron Paul activist, I’d bet money that that this far right person is a follower.

    Probably Alex Jones too.

  • Gregory

    By “international banking cartel” NWOslave means “The Joos”. One wonders why s/he can’t simply say what s/he means?

  • Erika

    Reynardine, it happens more frequently with people calling the police to complain about being ripped off on drug deals,but i’ve heard of it happening with people looking to hire hitmen as well.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “Ruslan your scheme would collapse quickly because i guarantee that at least one of your disatisfied clients would call the cops on you.”

    By the time they do, it would be far too late.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    There’s no such thing as “the international banking cartel.” We live in a capitalist world, and capitalism requires finance and credit, hence banks.

  • Reynardine

    Ruslan, it’s been tried, and no, I’ve never heard of anyone calling the police. The danger is that next time, they’ll find a real one.

  • Reynardine

    Nutwonky Oligophrenic probably isn’t even a real person. When somebody presses the remote button, it just cranks out the same old digital recording they were putting in all of ’em that year (George Soros is kinda passé).

  • Aron


    I happen to have it on very good authority that George Soros has a particular soft spot for you. You might even say he LOVES you.

    Now isn’t that bit of a conflict of interest? Perhaps you should simply go and troll yourself.

  • NWOslave

    Doesn’t the SPLC have a slush fund of around 2 or 300 million? Isn’t the SPLC funded by Soros and the rest of the international banking cartel? Since the SPLC is little more than a division of the international banking cartel, I can see why the SPLC would label anyone whose not willing to pay the private banking corporation, a hate group.

    A bit of a conflict of interest, but nothing new for the SPLC. Whatever Soros funds, the SPLC places a halo above that organizations head. Whatever Soros doesn’t like, the SPLC labels a hate group.

  • aadila

    James, the SPLC report makes clear that sovereign citizens are a subculture of disaffected tax payers. It does not suggest that anyone who doesn’t want to or like to pay taxes is an extremist. Your argument is a fallacy of false attribution, and hence, rubbish.

    Thank you, please come again.

  • James

    just because someone doesnt want to or like to pay taxes does not make them a “sovereign” or an extremist.
    Lots of americans dont want to do this, but it doesnt make them fall into any specific category like the SPLC wants us to believe

  • Erika

    Ruslan your scheme would collapse quickly because i guarantee that at least one of your disatisfied clients would call the cops on you.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    I honestly don’t understand why some people don’t make a business of soliciting themselves as hitmen, taking the money(an initial deposit if the client isn’t a complete moron), and just going on their way. What would the client do? Call the cops?

  • David Cary Hart

    The funny thing about sovereign citizens is that, in some respects, they are only a tissue’s width apart from Ron Paul.

  • CM

    “Ballard promised to send the killer the $100,000 once the judge was dead.”

    Given Ballard’s history and ideology, it would be a supremely stupid assassin who would take the job on that basis.