Texas club owner gets 10 years in failed plot

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Associated Press

Posted on January 22, 2013 at 10:02 PM

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The owner of an Arlington topless club under threat of being shut down was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison Tuesday for a failed murder-for-hire plot against the North Texas city's mayor and an attorney.

Ryan Walker Grant, 35, also was fined $17,500 and will be on three years of supervised release after his prison term, according to the sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means in Fort Worth. The federal court system does not have parole.

Grant pleaded guilty in September to a murder-for-hire charge stemming from a failed 2012 plot to hire a hit man to kill Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck and lawyer Tom Brandt, who was representing the city against the club owner. Grant also was charged with unlawfully transferring a firearm, but prosecutors dropped that charge Tuesday as part of the plea deal.

Grant's club, Flashdancer Cabaret, was one of Arlington's most visible adult businesses, and authorities linked it to drugs, prostitution, assaults and other crimes. The city sought to permanently shut it down by revoking its license, although Grant agreed to close the club for a year in early January 2012. City officials were cracking down on such enterprises as the city sought to bolster its reputation as a tourist destination. Arlington is home to the Dallas Cowboys stadium, the Texas Rangers ballpark and Six Flags Over Texas.

Before he was sentenced Tuesday, Grant blamed his actions on his addiction to prescription painkillers but said he never meant to harm anyone. His attorney, Warren St. John, said after the hearing that Grant became addicted to the painkillers after suffering back and arm injuries in a car accident several years ago.

"I want to take this opportunity to apologize to Mr. Cluck and his family," Grant told the judge. "I will take this time (in prison) to improve myself."

Cluck also addressed the court, saying that his family was still working through the ordeal but that he wanted to put it behind him and continue in public service. He thanked law enforcement officers for realizing that the threat was serious and taking quick action.

"I believe sincerely that they saved my life," Cluck said. "I'm here today as proof that the system works."

Arlington's Flashdancer Cabaret is closed, but the Grant family's corporation still owns a topless club in Fort Worth, his attorney said.

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