Danton gets 7 1/2 years
Former Blues player sentenced for 'bizarre' murder-for-hire plot
Posted: Monday November 8, 2004 4:01PM; Updated: Monday November 8, 2004 11:16PM
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) -- Former St. Louis Blues player Mike Danton was sentenced Monday to 71/2 years in prison for a failed murder-for-hire plot to kill his agent.
Danton, 24, remained silent as U.S. District Judge William Stiehl read the sentence. Asked by the judge if he wanted to speak, Danton declined.
Afterward, Danton suggested to a St. Louis radio station that he hoped to again play hockey someday.
"I want to say to everyone that I will continue to work with my doctors in getting back to full mental, emotional and physical health," Danton told KMOX. "With a clear healthy mind, my doctor and I believe that if given the opportunity, I will be able to become an even better player."
Noting that Danton chose a 19-year-old and a police dispatcher as his would-be helpers in the murder plot, Stiehl said during Monday's hearing that "I do not believe in over 18 years on the bench I have been faced with a case as bizarre as this one."
"The exact reasons you felt you needed to engage in a murder plot remain a mystery to me," the judge told Danton.
Danton's lawyer, Bob Haar, asked that Danton be placed in a Pennsylvania prison accustomed to handling inmates seeking international transfer applications. From there, Danton will seek placement at a prison in his native Canada, Haar said.
Meanwhile, Danton's hockey career is in jeopardy. There is no parole in the federal system and, Stiehl has noted, Danton may not be allowed to return to the United States after completing his sentence.
After the sentencing, Haar said, "Throughout this whole thing, we haven't been thinking about hockey. I don't even know if that's ever going to be a possibility in any form."
Danton's contract with the Blues expired after the 2003-04 season, and prosecutors and the FBI have said they won't oppose Danton's effort to transfer to a prison in Canada.
Danton pleaded guilty July 16 to murder conspiracy charges. Prosecutors have said the intended victim was David Frost, Danton's agent and his longtime Canadian youth hockey coach.
A federal jury on Sept. 20 acquitted Katie Wolfmeyer, 19, of Florissant, Mo., of charges that she helped Danton in the plot.
Danton's attorney apologized on behalf of Danton to his Blues teammates and the organization, fans, friends and the court "for the pain and disappointment he has caused."
"His aspiration now is to return to Canada and put his life back together again," Haar said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Clark noted one omission from the list of apologies.
"Your honor, I didn't hear among those apologies an apology to Katie Wolfmeyer, whom Mr. Danton involved in his escapades," he said.
Danton met Wolfmeyer at a suburban St. Louis mall where she worked at the Blues practice rink, and the two had a brief relationship.
Wolfmeyer testified at her trial that she didn't know Danton was trying to hire a hit man when he reached her by cell phone April 14. Wolfmeyer gave the phone to Justin Levi Jones, an acquaintance she had just met. At the time, Danton was with the Blues in San Jose, Calif., for a playoff game.
The next night, Wolfmeyer went with Jones to provide directions to Danton's apartment.
The plot unraveled when Jones, a police dispatcher, went to his co-worker and police chief with cell phone recordings of some of his first conversations with Danton. The FBI and other authorities followed Wolfmeyer and Jones to Danton's apartment.
Wolfmeyer said after her trial that she planned to attend Danton's sentencing. On Monday, she told The Associated Press she rethought that decision and would instead spend the day at work.
"Why do I want to waste my time when this part of my life is over?" Wolfmeyer said.
Danton faced up to 10 years in prison, and prosecutors had argued for a strong sentence because they said Danton encouraged Wolfmeyer and Jones to deceive authorities. The judge said authorities already were aware of the plot by that point, and Danton's suggestions did not hurt the investigation.
Wolfmeyer said her life is returning to normal. She is busy playing college volleyball as she attends St. Louis Community College.
Wolfmeyer said she gets recognized, and people do stop her sometimes to talk about the case or wish her well.
"People say nothing but good things," she said.