Dykstra pleads not guilty in bankruptcy case


Monday, June 13, 2011
Posted: 3:19 p.m.

By Greg Risling
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Lenny Dykstra pleaded not guilty Monday in a federal case where he's accused of embezzling money from a bankruptcy estate.

An out-of-sorts Dykstra appeared in a Los Angeles federal courtroom where he entered his plea while flanked by a new attorney, a deputy federal public defender. His previous lawyer, Mark Werksman, wouldn't comment about why he no longer represented Dykstra, but noted a judge has declared the one-time baseball star indigent.

Federal prosecutors contend Dykstra, 48, sold or destroyed more than 400,000 worth of items from an 18.5 million mansion without permission of a bankruptcy trustee.

When U.S. Magistrate Judge John McDermott asked Dykstra if he understood the charges, the ex-big leaguer gave an incoherent response.

"I don't understand it, but I understand them," said Dykstra, who appeared dazed.

If convicted of all counts, Dykstra faces a maximum of 80 years in prison. A trial date is scheduled for Aug. 9.

Dykstra is being held in the Los Angeles County Jail after state prosecutors filed grand theft auto and drug possession charges against him and two men.

He was charged with 25 misdemeanor and felony counts of grand theft auto, attempted grand theft auto, identity theft and other crimes.

Prosecutors contend the three men tried to lease luxury cars from dealers this year by providing false information and claiming credit through a phony business called Home Free Systems.

Police who arrested Dykstra last month said they found cocaine, Ecstasy and the synthetic human growth hormone Somatropin at his San Fernando Valley home.

He faces up to 12 years in state prison if convicted on those charges. He is scheduled to be arraigned in the state case Thursday.

Dykstra, who bought a Ventura County mansion once owned by hockey star Wayne Gretzky, filed for bankruptcy two years ago, claiming he owed more than 31 million and had only 50,000 in assets.

Dykstra spent 12 years in the big leagues and helped the Mets to the World Series championship in 1986. He was a three-time All-Star in the 1990s while with the Phillies.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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