March 6, 2012
Alleged steroid user Lenny Dykstra sentenced to prison
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (KTLA) — Former baseball star Lenny Dykstra has been sentenced to three years in a state prison for grand theft auto charges and filing a false financial statement on Monday. Dykstra, 49, was sentenced after a judge refused to allow him to change his no-contest plea. According to prosecutors, the former New York Mets outfielder and two co-defendants tried to lease high-end cars from several area dealerships by providing fraudulent information. They claimed credit through a phony business called Home Free Systems, the district attorney’s office said. They were able to drive off with three cars from a San Fernando Valley auto dealer. One of Dykstra’s co-defendants, his accountant, 27-year-old Robert Hymers, pleaded no contest to one felony count of identity theft. The other, 30-year-old Christopher Gavanis pleaded no contest to one felony count of filing a false financial statement. Dykstra’s professional baseball career began in 1985 when he was drafted by the New York Mets at the age of 22. A year later, Dykstra hit a lead-off home run in Game 3 of theÂ World SeriesÂ at Boston’sÂ Fenway Park, after the Mets had lost the first two games. That spark rallied the Mets to a seven-game Series victory over theÂ Boston Red Sox. He was traded in 1989 toÂ Philadelphia, where the rest of his career was marked by successes as well as injuries, brawls and allegations of steroid use that he has denied. He earned the nickname “Nails” for his tenacity and confrontations on the field. By the time he retired, Dykstra had earned $36.5 million from major league baseball, according to the website baseball-reference.com. After retirement, Dykstra moved to California and started a profitable luxury car wash that he called TheÂ Taj Mahal. He expanded the business throughout Southern California and in 2007 sold it to investors, according to bankruptcy filings. As a self-taught financial analyst, Dykstra proclaimed himself a financial guru and began writing a stock-picking website column. His prominence soared as a sports celebrity, entrepreneur and popular guest on numerous financial news broadcasts. In 2008, Dykstra began publishing the Players Club, a glossy financial advice magazine exclusively for pro athletes to help them with wealth management and investment banking. His purchase of the palatial Gretzky estate in 2007 for $14 million occurred a few months before the mortgage market collapsed. By the time Dykstra filed for bankruptcy in July 2009, he had accumulated loans totaling $21 million, bankruptcy records show.