Former Major League Baseball player Lenny Dykstra was sentenced today to three years in prison for leasing high-end automobiles from an area dealership by providing false information and claiming credit through a phony business.
Dykstra, 49,. The one-time slugger for the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets had asked to withdraw his plea, saying he now wanted to fight the charges, but San Fernando Superior Court Judge Cynthia Ulfig rejected the request.
``The thing I am stumped by is he keeps saying, `I am not a criminal,' but he clearly engaged in criminal conduct,'' Ulfig said. Dykstra's attorney, Andrew Flier, said his client ``caved'' and agreed to plead no contest because he wanted to get out of jail—claiming he had been treated worse than other inmates during his roughly six months of incarceration.
Dykstra, who had been free pending sentencing, was immediately taken into custody. The case dates back to January 2011, when Dykstra and two co-defendants tried to lease various high-end automobiles from several area dealerships by providing bogus information and claiming credit through a phony business called Home Free Systems, according to Deputy District Attorney Alex Karkanen.
At two dealerships, Dykstra and his former accountant, Robert Hymers, provided information from a man they claimed was a co-signer but who had not authorized his name to be used. The leases were not approved, Karkanen said. However, at a San Fernando Valley auto dealer, Dykstra, Hymers and a third defendant, Christopher Gavanis, 30, were able to drive off with three cars by providing fraudulent information to the dealer, the prosecutor said.
When Los Angeles police detectives investigating the case executed a search warrant at Dykstra's Encino home on April 14, the day he was arrested, they allegedly found cocaine and Ecstasy along with Somatropin, a synthetic human growth hormone.
The judge, who said during the sentencing hearing she was a lifelong baseball fan, said it must have been ``horrible'' for Dykstra to go from growing up poor to ``being rich enough to buy anything he wants to going bankrupt.''
Ulfig called Dykstra the ringleader of the scheme, and ordered him to pay $600,000 into a victims' restitution fund. The former outfielder was originally charged with five counts of attempted grand theft auto, eight counts of filing false financial statements, four counts of identity theft and three counts each of grand theft auto and possession of a controlled substance—all felonies.
In addition, he was charged with one misdemeanor count each of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and unauthorized possession of a syringe.
In exchange for his plea, the other charges were dismissed. In September, Hymers pleaded no contest to one felony count of identity theft and Gavanis pleaded no contest to one felony count of filing a false financial statement. Their sentencing was put over for a year. Dykstra is also facing federal bankruptcy charges stemming from the alleged sale of property from his $18 million Ventura County mansion.
–City News Service