The murder-for-hire case against Flashdancer Cabaret co-owner Ryan Walker Grant could finally be put to rest Jan. 22 if his sentencing takes place as scheduled.
Grant, of Kennedale, pleaded guilty in September of trying to hire hit men last spring to kill Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck and a Dallas attorney who does contract work for the city. He was scheduled to be sentenced in late December, but the date was pushed back at the request of the federal prosecutor who is overseeing the case.
On Dec. 31, meanwhile, U.S. District Judge John McBryde abruptly recused himself from the case after having presided over it from the beginning. It was assigned to U.S. District Judge Terry Means, who moved the sentencing date from Jan. 4 to Jan. 22 at the federal courthouse in Fort Worth.
McBryde's order gave no specific reason for his decision.
"After having reviewed the presentence investigation report pertaining to the defendant, Ryan Walker Grant, the court has concluded that the court should recuse as to the sentencing of the defendant, and from all further proceedings in the case," the order read.
A Tarrant County company has sued a Carrollton man, claiming he embezzled money to help pay for the failed attempt to have a hit man kill his wife, according to court records.
Raley Holdings, LLC of Grapevine filed the suit Friday in the 153rd Judicial District Court.
According to the lawsuit, John Franklin Howard, a 52-year-old accountant from Carrollton, was hired in 2009 to be the company’s chief financial officer.
But the company claims that from 2009-2011, Howard, a certified public accountant, engaged in breach of fiduciary duty and fraud to divert millions of dollars from the company’s bank in Kuwait to accounts Howard set up at a Colleyville bank.
"Presently, millions of dollars of these funds are unaccounted for," according to the suit.
Last month, Howard was arrested and accused of hiring a hit man to kill his wife, Nancy Howard, at their home in Carrollton.
She told detectives that she was in the garage when a man in his 20s approached her with a gun and demanded her purse. She survived a gunshot to the face, but lost an eye, according to earlier reports.
Dustin Hiroms of Van, the man accused of shooting Nancy Howard, was first arrested on a traffic stop, but he also told police that he was working as a hit man for John Howard, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Hiroms now faces a charge of aggravated robbery.
Detectives subsequently learned John Howard had been scheming since 2009 to have his wife killed and paid as much as $85,000 to do the job.
The civil lawsuit filed by Raley Holdings claims that John Howard wired money from one of the accounts he set up "to compensate individuals for illegal and improper acts."
The company, according to the lawsuit, "did not authorize these transfers and had no knowledge of these transfers."
The company also claims Howard "abused his check-writing authority by writing checks to himself" and changed company records to cloak the expenditures as "office supplies."
Howard, the company claims, "wrote at least $144,000 in such checks."
The company seeks injunctions against Howard and damages.
Howard was held in the Denton County Jail since his arrest, but he was released on bond Monday.
Federal prosecutors and the attorney for the owner of an Arlington strip club who is accused of targeting Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck with a murder-for-hire plot have agreed to push back the deadline for an indictment.
According to court filings, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Wolfe and J. Warren St. John, who represents Flashdancer Cabaret owner Ryan Walker Grant, agreed to extend the deadline to indict to July 19. The filings say that the two sides are conducting discovery as well as negotiations that could lead to a plea bargain.
Under the Speedy Trial Act, federal indictments must be filed within 30 days of the arrest. Federal agents detained Grant on April 9, meaning today would have been the deadline.
Grant is accused of trying to hire men from Mexico through an intermediary to kill Cluck and Dallas attorney Tom Brandt, who represents Arlington in cases involving sexually oriented businesses. U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cureton ordered Grant held without bail on April 20.
St. John declined to comment through his office. Wolfe did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A Saginaw man is among seven people indicted in a bizarre murder-for-hire scheme, a South Carolina newspaper reports. Mario Corley, 40, of Saginaw and men from South Carolina and Colorado are accused of being part of a drug trafficking organization that conspired to commit murder in exchange for cash and cocaine. The men, including current and former members of the military, thought the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas was hiring them to obtain weapons for the organization, train members in military tactics and make a contract killing, according to prosecutors. But it was a sting, with undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agents posing as cartel members, according to the Justice Department. The seven men face various charges, including drug distribution, conspiracy to commit murder for hire, and use of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. Among the allegations is that 300 pounds of marijuana was to be delivered to the Saginaw man in Charleston, S.C.
A former Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a boy in 2008 was in the Dallas County Jail on charges that he tried to have the boy killed, the Associated Press reported.
John Fiala, 52, is under a bond totaling $700,000, according to the report.
He was arrested Thursday at his home in Garland after he allegedly met with an undercover officer to arrange the teen's killing, a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman said.
The boy had filed suit in April against the Roman Catholic Archdioceses of San Antonio and then-Bishop Jose Gomez. The suit accused Fiala of repeatedly sexually assaulting the teen in 2007 and 2008, forcing him to have sex at gunpoint twice, the Associated Press reported.
At the time, Fiala was pastor of Sacred Heart of Mary parish in Rocksprings about 110 miles west of San Antonio, the AP reported.
A 15-year-old girl in Hagerstown, Md., has been ordered to stand trial as an adult on charges that she solicited a boy on her school bus to kill her father.
The father was fatally stabbed in an alley behind his rented duplex on Halloween, authorities said.
The girl had told friends that her father had abused her, but investigators say they've found no evidence that was true.
She asked a boy on the bus to do it, but he turned her down. A couple days later, investigators said a 20-year-old, imposing 6-foot-5-inch newcomer to Hagerstown who had gained a reputation as a defender of girls became involved. Prosecutors said they have no proof the girl actually asked the boy to kill her father.
Police said that boy, Alec Eger, confessed to stabbing the father after confronting him about the alleged abuse of his daughter. He said a fight ensued and he stabbed the father after he tried to grab the boy's knife.