Texas mayor targeted in alleged murder-for-hire

April 11, 2012 - 6:05 PM
Mens Club Plot

This undated photo provided by the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office shows Flashdancer men's club co-owner Ryan Walker Grant, who has been arrested as the FBI investigates what an affidavit describes as a murder-for-hire plot against two unidentified Arlington city officials. (AP Photo/Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office)

DALLAS (AP) — A Texas mayor and city attorney were the targets of an alleged murder-for-hire plot that federal authorities say was orchestrated by the owner of a topless club embroiled in a licensing dispute, officials said.

Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck confirmed Wednesday he was one of the targets of the plot allegedly initiated by Ryan Walker Grant, co-owner of a club facing revocation of its license to operate as an adult business in the city of more than 365,000 between Dallas and Fort Worth.

"When I heard the facts from the FBI, I was concerned," Cluck acknowledged during a public appearance Wednesday, though he declined to take questions. "I'm still concerned. But (Grant) is in federal custody and will remain that way for the foreseeable future."

Security around the mayor hasn't been increased, an Arlington police spokesman said Wednesday.

An FBI affidavit made public this week claimed Grant, 34, had contacted an intermediary and requested that men from Mexico kill two unnamed city officials for $10,000 apiece. He was arrested Monday, and a judge will hear a government request Friday to keep him in custody until his trial.

Steven Swander, Grant's attorney in previous matters, said no decision has been made on who will represent him in the federal case.

A statement from the city of Arlington said attorney Tom Brandt was the second official targeted. Brandt, a Dallas attorney who works for Arlington on a contract basis, told The Associated Press he has been advised by the FBI not to comment.

The FBI's affidavit alleged Grant initiated the plot April 3 with a text message to the intermediary and followed up with a series of calls and face-to-face meetings.

"I really need somebody to take a vacation up here to do a job from down south, man," Grant told the intermediary on a call that was recorded, according to the affidavit.

Grant and his club, Flashdancer Cabaret, have been embroiled in a long-running dispute with Arlington as the city has worked to reign in sexually-oriented businesses.

Grant agreed in January to close the club for a year to settle a legal dispute in which the city and state called the business a nuisance, linking it to drugs, prostitution, assaults and other offenses. The city has since indicated it wants to close the club permanently by revoking its license.

According to the FBI, Grant told the intermediary he would lose $800,000 a year if he were prohibited from operating the club.

Before the January agreement, Grant had filed a federal lawsuit against the city claiming it was "methodically" forcing sexually-oriented businesses to close to accommodate the Dallas Cowboys, whose stadium is one of the city's major attractions.

The lawsuit said the number of sexually-oriented businesses dropped from 11 to two after the Cowboys announced in 2004 that they were relocating to Arlington from the Dallas suburb of Irving.

It also alleged Grant was beaten without provocation by Arlington police officers during a traffic accident investigation. As a result, he suffered symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, including anger, depression, nightmares and flashbacks to the alleged beating, according to the suit.

"Plaintiff's grandfather and great-grandfather were both Arlington police officers, and this incident has (caused) him to lose a great deal of faith in law enforcement and this city," the suit said.

The suit has been dormant since the settlement was reached, and Arlington never filed a response, records show.