Bail denied for Flashdancer owner in Texas accused in murder-for-hire plot

Fort Worth Star-TelegramApril 20, 2012 

FORT WORTH -- A federal magistrate Friday morning ordered Flashdancer owner Ryan Walker Grant detained until further court proceedings on charges that he tried to arrange the killing of Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck and a Dallas attorney this month.

FBI Special Agent Matthew Wilkins testified in the detention hearing that several days after Grant first contacted an intermediary and expressed interest in having Cluck and attorney Tom Brandt killed, he gave a final green light April 9 to proceed with the murder of Cluck.

"Let's do the mayor. Let's hit him tomorrow," Wilkins testified that Grant told the intermediary, who was a confidential informant working for the Drug Enforcement Agency when the alleged plot began.

After receiving Grant's instructions, the informant left Grant's home in Kennedale, and Grant never contacted him again, Wilkins said. FBI agents arrested Grant a few hours later.

In phone, text message and in-person conversations that began April 3, Grant asked the informant to hire hit men from Mexico so that they could come to the U.S. anonymously, do the jobs, and then return home, Wilkins testified. According to the informant, Grant stressed that he didn't want the hit men to know his name and told the informant that "he did not want to do 25 years for nobody," Wilkins testfied.

When agents raided Grant's home, they seized 22 guns, two bulletproof vests and nearly $150,000 in cash, Wilkins testified. Flashdancer, at Randol Mill Road and Texas 360 in north Arlington, has closed for a year under a settlement with the Texas attorney general's office and the city in a nuisance lawsuit.

Arlington Police Chief Theron Bowman, meanwhile, wants to revoke the club's sexually oriented business license on the grounds that Flashdancer filed a misleading application with the city and allowed rampant sexual contact between employees and customers. That would make it harder for the club to reopen.

Grant wanted Cluck and Brandt killed because he felt they were blocking his efforts to reopen Flashdancer, according to a federal arrest warrant affidavit.

Grant's attorney, J. Warren St. John, countered by calling Grant's mother to the stand Friday. Patricia Grant told the court that if her son were released from custody, he would probably stay with her and her husband, Ronald Grant, who are officers of 520 Watson, the corporate name for Flashdancer's Arlington location.

St. John pointed out that Grant had a concealed handgun permit and that none of the guns were illegally altered.

St. John also questioned whether the informant, a convicted felon, had selfish motives for being involved and said that "no overt" actions were ever taken against Cluck or Brandt. The charge is based completely on free speech exercised by Grant, St. John said. Federal prosecutors will next present the case to a grand jury.

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