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.
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.
Flashdancer Cabaret’s license to operate as an adult business should be revoked because its owners filed a misleading application with the city and because the north Arlington strip club allowed “rampant” sexual contact on its premises, an attorney representing the city argued at a hearing Friday.
Dallas lawyer Tom Brandt used the testimony of three Arlington police vice squad members, four video clips showing sex or prohibited touching at the club and other evidence to build his case that Flashdancer’s sexually oriented business license should be revoked.
The club, at 520 N. Watson Road, ceased operations for a year in mid-January under an agreement it reached with the city and the Texas attorney general’s office to end a lawsuit. As part of the settlement, Flashdancer can maintain its lease and reapply for a license from the city if it chooses to reopen.
The club’s license expired Feb. 6, and it has applied for a renewal, but city officials have not acted on that request because the revocation process for the previous license has not been completed.
Steven Swander, the attorney for Flashdancer, argued at the hearing Friday that because the business was closed and the previous license had expired, the hearing should have been about granting or rejecting a new license. He took issue with the fact that the city mailed its notice to revoke the license on Feb. 2, days before the license expired, and sent it to the club’s address knowing that the business was closed.
He called three witnesses, including owner Ronald Grant, whose son’s relationship with the club was mischaracterized on Flashdancer’s license application for the year of Feb. 7, 2011, to Feb. 6, 2012, city officials say. The application listed Ryan Grant as a shareholder and not the general manager, as he was listed on previous and subsequent applications.
When Assistant City Attorney Kathleen Weisskopf contacted Ronald Grant about the issue, he responded that Ryan Grant wasn’t overseeing day-to-day operations. But Ryan Grant himself later testified in a deposition that he acted as the general manager, serving as “the managers’ manager,” Bryant told Deputy Police Chief Lauretta Hill, who will rule on the revocation request.
During one sequence of questioning Friday, Ronald Grant repeatedly changed his answers, saying that because of injuries suffered in a 2010 car crash, his son was physically incapable of being the general manager, then saying he was capable, then saying he didn’t know.
“How are your answers consistent?” Brandt asked Ronald Grant at the end of the exchange.
“I guess I am being inconsistent,” Grant replied. “As far as I’m concerned, he is capable.”
Brandt also used video clips taken from security camera footage to show Ryan Grant having sex in the office as a manager sat just a few feet away and dancers rubbing themselves provocatively over customers seated in the “VIP area.” It is unlawful for any physical contact between seminude dancers and their patrons.
The three clips of the dancers and customers, taken at different times of day and on different days of the week, showed that such behavior was typical, Brandt said. Testimony from the undercover officers backed that up.
Swanson challenged the video footage, arguing vigorously that the original search warrant was for drug transactions and that using it to find evidence for something else was not what the judge signed off on. Later, however, the vice squad sergeant testified that detectives waited to get another search warrant before reviewing the footage.
State and city officials have called Flashdancer a nuisance property rife with drugs, prostitution, aggravated assaults and other criminal activity.
According to court records, the state reported that Flashdancer was the site of 25 or more controlled-substance violations and 15 or more Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission violations since May 2008 and that club management “knowingly tolerated or participated in such acts and has failed to make reasonable attempts to abate the activity.”
Arlington police also reported aggravated assaults and shootings there, records show.
The Associated Press reports that an exotic dancer accused of killing her customer by running him over outside his home and then dragging him for a mile was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Kristina Hensley, 25, was given the maximum sentence in 31-year-old Jae Cho's death in August.
Hensley told police that Cho touched her inappropriately during a private show at his home and she got into her SUV to leave. Hensley said that the man then jumped in front of her SUV as she left and she didn't realize he was stuck underneath the vehicle as she kept driving.
Police told reporters that she drove about a mile to a gas station before she stopped.
She pleaded guilty in February to charges of involuntary manslaughter and failure to stop. She originally faced murder, aggravated robbery, theft and failure to stop charges but reached a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to the lesser charges.
Hensley's attorneys told the judge in the case that she was the sole income provider for her three sons, ages 13, 8, and 7, and that she worked as a stripper due to economic hardship.