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Former baseball star Dykstra released on bail

From Stan Wilson, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Former baseball star Lenny Dykstra is embroiled in a federal bankruptcy case
  • He is accused of selling personal property without OK from a bankruptcy trustee
  • He was arrested by Los Angeles police on April 14 and spent a week in jail
  • He was released Wednesday on $150,000 bond

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Three-time major league All-Star outfielder Lenny Dykstra appeared in federal court Wednesday, shackled in handcuffs after spending seven days in jail following his arrest last week by local authorities and then his subsequent transfer to federal authorities on charges of bankruptcy fraud.

U.S. Central District Magistrate Carla Woehrle released the former star on $150,000 bond and ordered him to seek outpatient substance abuse treatment and surrender his passport.

Dykstra, who has been embroiled in a bankruptcy case, is accused of illegally removing and selling personal property from his $18 million mansion without permission of a bankruptcy trustee, according to a federal criminal complaint filed last Friday.

Dykstra was arrested by Los Angeles Police last Thursday on what police said was suspicion of fraudulent auto purchases.

In a complex series of events, he was held in lieu of $500,000 bail. Meanwhile, on Friday the federal criminal complaint was filed. Dykstra remained in local custody through the weekend and into the week, until state prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to file charges based on the police allegations of fraudulent auto purchases.

The former member of a New York Mets World Series champion team was transferred to federal custody Tuesday, and Wednesday he appeared in federal court where he was released after posting bond.

His attorney, Mark Werksman characterized the case as "a scorched-earth bankruptcy proceeding" and blamed the auto-related accusations as a "vendetta" by former caretakers.

"He's been caged like an animal for seven days," said Werksman who communicated with Dykstra through a glass partition, surrounded by several U.S. marshals.

According to the criminal complaint, Dykstra, who filed for bankruptcy in 2009 also is suspected of selling items belonging to the estate for cash, as well as destroying and hiding other items. An attorney hired by the bankruptcy trustee estimated that Dykstra stole or destroyed more than $400,000 worth of property in the estate, according to the criminal complaint.

In the bankruptcy filing, Dykstra listed assets of $24.6 million and overall debts of $37.1 million.

Among the assets he listed are two residences: a Ventura County mansion in Lake Sherwood Estates that he purchased from Janet and Wayne Gretzky, which he estimated was worth $18.5 million; and a home in Westlake Village that he estimated was worth $5.4 million. As a result of the bankruptcy filing, the residences and Dykstra's personal property became part of the bankruptcy estate that would be used to pay off creditors.

Even though Dykstra was prohibited from liquidating any part of the estate, the complaint alleges he admitted in a bankruptcy hearing that he arranged the sale of sports memorabilia and furniture that were part of the estate.

Dykstra's professional baseball career began in 1985 when he was drafted by the New York Mets at the age of 22. A year later, Dykstra hit a lead-off home run in Game 3 of the World Series at Boston's Fenway Park, after the Mets had lost the first two games. That spark rallied the Mets to a seven-game Series victory over the Boston Red Sox.

He was traded in 1989 to Philadelphia, where the rest of his career was marked by successes as well as injuries, brawls and allegations of steroid use that he has denied. He earned the nickname "Nails" for his tenacity and confrontations on the field.

By the time he retired, Dykstra had earned $36.5 million from major league baseball, according to the website baseball-reference.com.

After retirement, Dykstra moved to California and started a profitable luxury car wash that he called The Taj Mahal. He expanded the business throughout Southern California and in 2007 sold it to investors, according to bankruptcy filings.

As a self-taught financial analyst, Dykstra proclaimed himself a financial guru and began writing a stock-picking website column. His prominence soared as a sports celebrity, entrepreneur and popular guest on numerous financial news broadcasts. In 2008, Dykstra began publishing the Players Club, a glossy financial advice magazine exclusively for pro athletes to help them with wealth management and investment banking.

His purchase of the palatial Gretzy estate in 2007 for $14 million occurred a few months before the mortgage market collapsed. By the time Dykstra filed for bankruptcy in July 2009, he had accumulated loans totaling $21 million, bankruptcy records show.

The bankruptcy case is still ongoing. Dykstra has listed his only income as a $5,700 monthly pension from Major League Baseball, records show. He faces a maximum of five years in federal prison if convicted on the federal charges. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 4.