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Lenny Dykstra hit with drug, grand theft auto charges

The former Mets star is accused of a scheme to obtain luxury cars using credit from a company that doesn't exist; possession of cocaine, human growth hormone and Ecstasy; and identity theft.

June 07, 2011|By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
  • Lenny Dykstra appeared in court Monday on 23 felony charges including grand theft auto, filing false financial statements, identity theft and possession of a controlled substance.
Lenny Dykstra appeared in court Monday on 23 felony charges including grand… (Michael Robinson Chavez,…)

The New Yorker magazine once touted former New York Mets star Lenny Dykstra as "baseball's most improbable post-career success story." He transformed himself into a financial guru and ace stock picker, drove a Maybach and bought Wayne Gretzky's palatial estate near the Sherwood Country Club.

But on Monday, Dykstra's well-documented financial collapse took another sharp turn when authorities charged him with nearly two dozen felony counts related to a scheme to obtain luxury cars and possession of cocaine, human growth hormone and Ecstasy.

The charges come a month after Dykstra was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of bankruptcy fraud and obstruction of justice.

Los Angeles County prosecutors said Dykstra, 48, along with his accountant Robert Hymers, 27, and friend Christopher Gavanis, 30, tried to claim credit through a phony business and stolen identity. Beginning in January, the trio tried to lease high-end cars from several area dealerships.

"He has scammed everybody he knows," Deputy Dist. Atty. Alex Karkanen said. "They faked pay stubs. They faked income information for the company. They made it all up on a laser printer at home. And when the dealers asked for a co-signer, they said their financial officer would sign."

The so-called financial officer was actually an unsuspecting customer of the accountant, Karkanen said, adding, "He knew nothing about them using his identity.

At two dealerships, Dykstra and Hymers provided information for the "co-signer," but the leases were not approved. At one of the dealerships, Dykstra, Hymers and Gavanis provided fraudulent information and drove off with 2011 models of a Ford Mustang, Ford Flex and Lincoln MKS, Karkanen said.

Maria Ramirez, head deputy district attorney in charge of the auto fraud unit, said Dykstra's company, Home Free Systems, "doesn't even exist.… He's hardly a financial guru."

They "presented the company like it was making millions of dollars when it was not," Ramirez said.

When police arrested Dykstra April 14 at his Encino home in connection with the car scheme, they served a search warrant and seized cocaine and Ecstasy along with somatropin, a synthetic human growth hormone.

The new felony charges include five counts of attempted grand theft auto, eight counts of filing false financial statements, four counts of identity theft, three counts of grand theft auto and three counts of possession of a controlled substance. In addition, he is charged with one misdemeanor count each of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and unauthorized possession of a syringe.

Dykstra appeared in a San Fernando courtroom Monday afternoon and was remanded to custody, with bail set at $500,000. A bail reduction hearing is scheduled for Friday.

If convicted, Dykstra faces up to 12 years in state prison.

Dykstra is also facing federal charges, including bankruptcy fraud and obstruction of justice, for allegedly sneaking away with more than $400,000 in property that should have gone to his creditors, then lying about it under oath.

The former Mets and Phillies outfielder known to his fans as "Nails" is accused of stealing, hiding and destroying items such as chandeliers, artwork, sconces and personal sports memorabilia from his $18-million Ventura County mansion, according to the federal indictment.

His attorney in the federal case, Mark Werksman, has called the charges payback by the bankruptcy administrator for balking at their plans to sell off assets. Dykstra had filed for bankruptcy in 2009 — a fall from grace for the man CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer once hired to write a stock-picking column.

richard.winton@latimes.com

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