A California shyster has been convicted for the second time of a prison plot to kill a federal judge by shoving his body through a wood chipper.
John Arthur Walthall, 66, of Laguna Beach, also sought the murder of several law enforcement officials he believed were responsible for convicting him of a phony gold-mining scheme in 2012, the Orange County Register reports. He was serving a 14-year sentence in federal prison for fraud.
“He wanted these people dead, he obsessed about it,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Sheppard told jurors this week. “He was willing to con whoever it took to make it happen.”
Walthall shared his thirst for revenge with fellow prisoners, who reported him to the FBI. He was then recorded by an undercover agent, the report states, saying he wanted former U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford to suffer a “nice and painful death” by “shoving him in an (expletive) wood chipper” and FBI agents and federal prosecutors “killed on the spot.”
He was convicted of the revenge scheme in 2016. But a federal appeals court overturned the ruling in 2019, finding that he had been improperly denied the right to represent himself at trial.
The audio recordings of his plot for revenge from behind bars were played in both trials. He had hoped to hire a hit squad to kill the law enforcement officers.
Walthall was found guilty after less than three hours of deliberation by a jury Friday. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 8.