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Former baseball star makes plea deal in auto thefts

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:36 PM EDT, Wed October 19, 2011
Lenny Dykstra, nicknamed
Lenny Dykstra, nicknamed "Nails" for his tenacity, led the New York Mets to a World Series championship in 1986.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Former baseball star pleads no contest to several charges
  • He faces up to four years in prison at January sentencing
  • Complaint says Dykstra, two friends fraudulently drove off with luxury cars from dealership

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Former baseball great Lenny Dykstra reached a deal with prosecutors, pleading no contest Wednesday to three counts of grand theft auto and filing a false financial statement, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.

Dykstra, a three-time Major League Baseball All-Star who led the New York Mets to a World Series championship, was released pending sentencing Jan. 20, 2012, the office said in a statement. The former athlete, who faces up to four years in prison, admitted the loss was more than $100,000, according to a statement from the district attorney's office.

In exchange for Dykstra's plea, 21 charges against him, including attempted grand theft auto, identity theft, possession of a controlled substance and unauthorized possession of a syringe, will be dismissed at sentencing, according to the statement.

Beginning in January, Dykstra, 48, and two co-defendants tried to lease various high-end automobiles from several area dealerships by providing fraudulent information and claiming credit through a phony business, prosecutors said.

A criminal complaint contended that Dykstra and Robert Hymers, 27, his accountant, provided information from a man they claimed was a co-signer, but who had not authorized his name to be used.

Leases were not approved at two dealerships, but the pair and Christopher Gavanis, 30, a friend of Dykstra's, drove off with three cars at one company by providing fraudulent information to a dealer, Deputy District Attorney Alex Karkanen said.

When Dykstra was arrested in April, Los Angeles police detectives allegedly found cocaine and ecstasy along with somatropin, a synthetic human growth hormone, when they searched his Encino home.

In September, Hymers pleaded no contest to one felony count of identity theft. Gavanis pleaded no contest to one felony count of filing a false financial statement, prosecutors said.

In a separate case, Dykstra was indicted in May on federal charges, including obstruction of justice for allegedly taking more than $400,000 in property that should have gone to his bankruptcy creditors and then lying about it under oath, prosecutors claim.

Dykstra's stellar professional baseball career began in 1981, when the New York Mets drafted him out of high school.

During his second year in the majors, the player nicknamed "Nails" for his tenacity, hit a lead-off home run in Game 3 of the 1986 World Series at Boston's Fenway Park, after the Mets lost the first two games. That spark rallied the Mets to a seven-game series victory over the Boston Red Sox.

CNN's Stan Wilson contributed to this report.

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