LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former New York Mets star Lenny Dykstra pleaded no contest on Wednesday to grand theft auto charges stemming from what prosecutors said was a scheme to lease cars using phony business and credit information.
Dykstra, 48, entered his plea, the equivalent of guilty in California, during a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court. In addition to three counts of grand theft auto, he pleaded no contest to one count of filing false financial statements.
The onetime World Series hero faces a maximum penalty of four years in prison when he appears before a judge for sentencing in January.
Dykstra and two associates were accused of running a scheme to lease high-end automobiles from dealerships using fraudulent information and claiming credit through a phony business called Home Free Systems.
Although they were rejected at two dealerships, prosecutors charge, they drove off with three cars from another business.
Dykstra’s accountant, Robert Hymers, pleaded no contest earlier this year to a charge of identity theft in connection with his role in the scheme.
Also, Dykstra’s friend Christopher Gavanis pleaded no contest to a charge of filing a false financial statement. Hymers and Gavanis have not yet been sentenced.
Dykstra originally faced 25 criminal counts, including three counts of possession of a controlled substance, due to the alleged discovery of cocaine, Ecstasy and a synthetic growth hormone during a police search of his Los Angeles home.
Those charges together were punishable by up to 12 years in prison. But Los Angeles prosecutors said on Wednesday that the remainder of the case would be dismissed at sentencing under his plea deal.
Dykstra still faces two additional and unrelated criminal prosecutions. An indictment returned by a federal grand jury in May accuses him of stealing or destroying some $400,000 in property that was part of his bankruptcy case.
Then in August, he was charged in Los Angeles with exposing himself to a string of women who answered online employment advertisements he posted.
Nicknamed “Nails” during his baseball career, Dykstra spent more than a decade in the Major Leagues, mostly as an outfielder for the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies.
He is perhaps best remembered by Mets fans for the 1986 season, when he struck a walk-off, game-winning home run in Game Three of the National League Championship Series.
In Game Three of the 1986 World Series, he hit a key lead-off run, sparking a comeback by the Mets from a 2-0 series deficit to win the championship over the Boston Red Sox.
Editing by Steve Gorman and Cynthia Johnston