Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Flashdancer co-owner could face trial Sept. 24 in murder-for-hire case - Fort Worth Star Telegram

FORT WORTH -- Flashdancer co-owner Ryan Walker Grant pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a federal murder-for-hire charge for an alleged plot to have Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck and a Dallas attorney representing the city killed.

At an arraignment hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cureton, Grant, 34, of Kennedale, was scheduled for trial Sept. 24 in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge John McBryde. However, other cases are also on the docket for that time, so the trial may be rescheduled.Grant, co-owner of the strip club at Texas 360 and Randol Mill Road in north Arlington, entered the courtroom dressed in a bright orange jumpsuit and cracked a joke with his lawyer, Warren St. John of Fort Worth. Under questioning from Cureton, he revealed that he has been under the care of a mental-health professional but said it didn't affect his ability to proceed with a plea.After the hearing, St. John said that Grant was dealing with "slight depression," likely brought on from being jailed since his arrest April 9."He's in good spirits," St. John said. "When you have your freedom taken away and you're not used to it, it's disheartening. He's been dealing with that."Grant also faces a charge of unlawful transfer of a firearm. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge.A federal agent earlier testified that Grant contacted an intermediary and expressed interest in having Cluck and attorney Tom Brandt killed. Grant told the intermediary, who turned out to be an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration, that he wanted the men killed for their roles in blocking his plans to reopen his north Arlington strip club.The club had been closed in January as part of a lawsuit brought by the city and the Texas attorney general's office. Authorities labeled the club a nuisance based on prevalence of drugs, prostitution and assaults.Patrick M. Walker, 817-983-8080Twitter: @patrickmwalker1

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