December 4, 2012

Former baseball star Dykstra sentenced for bankruptcy fraud

The former Mets star has racked up numerous criminal charges since his financial empire began to crumble in 2009.

Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein / Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Already serving a three-year state prison sentence for auto theft, former New York Mets star Lenny Dykstra was sentenced to an additional 6 ½ months on Monday for federal bankruptcy fraud.

click image to enlarge

Former New York Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra is seen during his sentencing for grand theft auto in Los Angeles in this March 5, 2012, photo.

AP

Dykstra, who helped the New York Mets win the 1986 World Series, had pleaded guilty to looting his mansion of valuables before creditors could liquidate them. The defendant, who reportedly scuffled with Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies when he was arrested in April, has racked up numerous criminal charges since his financial empire began to crumble in 2009.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson ordered Dykstra to pay $200,000 in restitution and to perform 500 hours of community service in addition to prison time. The 6 ½-month sentence was far lighter than the 30 months federal prosecutors had sought.

It was during sentencing discussions that officials mentioned that Dykstra had been struck by sheriff’s deputies when he was first taken into custody. Although neither the judge nor the defense lawyer discussed specifics, a sheriff’s spokesman later confirmed that the incident occurred at a Monterey Park hospital.

“Dykstra became agitated and assaulted a (medical technician) and a nurse,” sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said. “Deputies then used force to restrain Dykstra.”

Dykstra suffered a bloody nose, but Whitmore denied reports that Dykstra’s teeth were damaged in the struggle. He said a use-of-force report was taken and an investigation was opened. The Sheriff’s Department operates the county jail system.

According to federal prosecutors, Dykstra sold sports memorabilia and household items from his Ventura County mansion, including a $50,000 sink. Dykstra was barred from selling the items.

Nicknamed “Nails” by baseball fans for his aggressive play, the California native turned to bankruptcy court in July 2009 to try to save his lavishly furnished Sherwood Country Club estate. He bought the property from hockey legend Wayne Gretzky for $18.5 million, at the height of the last housing boom.

An affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Ty Thomas lays out how federal investigators allege that Dykstra “sold many items belonging to the bankruptcy estate” and “destroyed and hid other estate items, depriving the estate of a combined $400,000 of assets.”

Dykstra reportedly transferred dozens of items — including chandeliers, mirrors, artwork, a stove and a grandfather clock — to a consignment store in West Los Angeles. The owner of the store paid him cash for a U-Haul truckload of goods, according to the agent.

Despite warnings from a bankruptcy trustee’s attorney, Dykstra — moments after promising not to remove items from his Camarillo Airport office — shifted numerous valuable pieces into a truck, according to the affidavit. People who received some of the items from Dykstra listed them on Craigslist and eBay.

Dykstra has already been sentenced to three years in state prison. He pleaded no contest to grand theft auto and filing a false financial statement in connection with a scheme a judge described as an effort to steal cars.

Earlier this year, he received nine months in jail for exposing himself to a woman.

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