ARLINGTON — The owner of the now-defunct Flashdancer Cabaret apologized in federal court Tuesday for ordering a murder contract on Arlington's mayor.
At his sentencing, Ryan Grant told the judge he never really intended to hurt anyone.
Mayor Robert Cluck — the intended target — isn't buying it.
"I firmly believe I would have been dead the day the FBI came to see me, because he was planning on doing it either that day or the next day," Dr. Cluck said outside the courthouse after Grant was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a fine of $17,500 and three years' supervised probation.
Mayor Cluck also spoke in court. He thanked law enforcement for saving his life.
He and his wife Linda faced Grant in court. "First time I had seen him face-to-face, so it was scary for me," Linda Cluck said.
Grant pleaded guilty to the murder plot after the FBI raided his home, and he learned he had been recorded making the deal. His contact turned out to be an informant.
The city ruled the club a nuisance in 2010, saying it was a location where drugs, gambling or prostitution were readily available. Grant sued and the fight played out in court until January of last year, when the two parties reached a settlement that would shutter Flashdancers until 2013.
A federal affidavit alleged that Grant, fuming that he would lose $800,000 a month until the club reopened, hired someone, later revealed to be a federal informant, to kill Cluck and Brandt.
Investigators had a litany of evidence against Grant. The affidavit said he provided the informant with photos of the targets. The club owner offered $10,000 per person, using thinly veiled coded language to refer to the slayings. "Watching a movie" meant murder, the affidavit said.
He issued the go-ahead on April 9. He was arrested at his Kennedale home hours later.
"If he'd gone to trial, he was looking at the possibility of 30 years," said defense attorney Warren St John. Instead, Grant pleaded guilty and received the reduced penalty.
Grant had offered $20,000 for the murders of Mayor Cluck and attorney Tom Brandt, who represented the city in the case against Grant's club.
"Feel relieved," the mayor said. "We've been dealing with this for nine months."
Mayor Cluck said he felt sorry for Ryan Grant, who blamed his behavior on an addiction to prescription pain killers. The judge ordered treatment in prison.
"I messed up... that's the bottom line," Grant told the court. He promised to use his prison time to "make himself a better person."