Ex-Mets star Dykstra charged with grand theft auto

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 06, 2011 4:33 PM
Ex-Mets star Dykstra charged with grand theft auto

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ex-baseball star Lenny Dykstra, already facing federal bankruptcy fraud charges, was charged in a state case on Monday with trying to lease cars using phony business and credit information.

Dykstra, best known for his post-season heroics for the New York Mets during their 1986 championship run, was also charged with possessing controlled substances after prosecutors say a search of his home turned up cocaine, Ecstasy and a synthetic human growth hormone.

The 48-year-old former ballplayer was hit with a total of 25 criminal counts by Los Angeles County prosecutors. He faces 12 years in state prison if convicted at trial.

Also charged in the case were his accountant, 27-year-old Robert Hymers, and friend Christopher Gavanais, 30.

All three defendants were due in court for an arraignment later on Monday and Deputy District Attorney Alex Karkanen said he would ask that a judge set $500,000 bail for each of them.

Prosecutors say that beginning in January, Dykstra, Hymers and Gavanais tried to lease a series of high-end automobiles from dealerships using fraudulent information and claiming credit through a phony business, Home Free Systems.

Though they were rejected at two dealerships, prosecutors charge, they drove off with three cars from another.

In all Dykstra was charged with three counts of grand theft auto, five counts of attempted grand theft auto, eight counts of filing false financial statements, three counts of possessing a controlled substance -- all felonies.

He was also charged with two misdemeanors: possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and unauthorized possession of a syringe.

Dykstra was indicted by a federal grand jury in May, accused of stealing or destroying some $400,000 in property that was part of his bankruptcy case.

He faces a maximum sentence of up to 80 years in prison if convicted in that case, according to federal prosecutors.

Dykstra, nicknamed "Nails" during his playing days, spent 11 years in the major leagues, mostly as an outfielder for the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies,

He is perhaps best remembered by Mets fan for the 1986 season, when he struck a walk-off home run in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.

In Game 3 of the 1986 World Series, he hit a key lead-off home run, sparking a comeback by the Mets from a 2-0 series deficit to win the championship over the Boston Red Sox.