Inmate accused of plotting Texas judge's murder

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - A man in federal custody pending trial on tax-related charges has been charged with soliciting the murder of the judge set to preside over the trial.

Phillip Monroe Ballard was scheduled for trial Monday in Fort Worth, accused of helping prepare false tax reports and interfering with federal tax laws. Instead, the 71-year-old inmate was charged with soliciting the murder-for-hire of U.S. District Judge John McBryde.

According to a federal complaint, a fellow inmate reported that Ballard had approached him about killing the judge. The fellow inmate was a confidential FBI informant who said he knew someone who could handle the chore.

According to the complaint, Ballard called that person, who was an undercover federal agent, four times and arranged a $5,000 payment.

Ballard's attorney didn't return a message seeking comment.

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