Lenny Dykstra pleads guilty to bankruptcy fraud, could get 20 years
Former New York Mets star and self-styled financial guru Lenny Dykstra pleaded guilty Friday to three federal bankruptcy fraud charges for pilfering from his Ventura County mansion, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
Dykstra has acknowledged that he took more $200,000 in assets out of the home and other locations as he struggled to battle numerous creditors. He pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud, concealment of assets and money laundering. He could face up to 20 years in prison but is likely to be sentenced to far less because of his plea.
"Mr. Dykstra's days of playing games with the public and the legal system are over. With these federal convictions, Mr. Dykstra's fraud and deceit have been exposed for all to see," said U.S. Atty. André Birotte Jr. "These convictions should serve as a cautionary tale of a high-flying sports celebrity who tried to manipulate and exploit both his creditors and the bankruptcy laws of the United States."
Dykstra is in state custody after having been convicted in Los Angeles County Superior Court on unrelated charges. He admitted that he filed a bankruptcy case in 2009 and later lied about taking and selling items that were part of the bankruptcy estate.
Dykstra admitted lying about whether he had taken and sold items from the $18-million Sherwood Estates mansion that he had purchased from Wayne and Janet Gretzky. Dykstra also admitted that he concealed property from the bankruptcy estate, items that included baseball memorabilia stored in his other Sherwood Estates mansion. And he admitted that he sold some of the memorabilia and laundered the proceeds by taking $15,000 earned from the sale and purchasing a cashier’s check in another person's name.
Dykstra helped the New York Mets win the 1986 World Series and later became a celebrity stock picker before his finances dissolved into chaos in 2009. He has racked up numerous criminal charges in recent years.
Nicknamed "Nails" by baseball fans for his raucous style on the diamond, the Garden Grove native turned to bankruptcy court in July 2009 to try to save his lavishly furnished Sherwood Country Club estate.
His fall from grace during the last two years has resulted in conviction for a car finance scam and separate charges of lewd conduct and assault with a deadly weapon.
He has already been sentenced to three years in state prison. He pleaded no contest to grand theft auto and filing a false financial statement. During the sentencing, Dykstra addressed the court.
"Did I do something I'm not proud of? Yes," he said. "Am I a criminal? No."
-- Richard Winton
Photo: Lenny Dykstra. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times