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March 12, 2012
The former Mets and Phillies hero turned out to be the centerfielder who couldn't shoot straight
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March 12, 2012

How Lenny Dykstra Got Nailed

The former Mets and Phillies hero turned out to be the centerfielder who couldn't shoot straight

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The case of Wilberto Hernandez didn't exactly fit the pattern of the earlier complaints against Dykstra. Unlike the others, Hernandez barely knew the ex-player. They had met once, in September 2010, introduced by Robert Hymers, a mutual friend and a mild-mannered, churchgoing, then 27-year-old accountant at Ernst & Young. On Valentine's Day 2011, when Hernandez followed up on his call to the police by coming in to speak with Contreras, he brought Hymers with him.

Hymers told police that he had introduced Hernandez to Dykstra so that Hernandez could help Dykstra improve his credit. At the time, however, Hernandez did not realize that Hymers, who had been doing financial work for Dykstra outside of his employment with Ernst & Young, had been seduced by Dykstra's lifestyle—riding in fancy cars, meeting retired ballplayers and hanging out with celebrities, including Charlie Sheen. Hymers told Contreras that he loaned Dykstra money and credit cards and would later tell police that spending time with Dykstra was "like being in a movie." In a well-publicized stunt last May, Dykstra, with Hymers in tow, made a spontaneous nighttime visit to Dwight Gooden, one of Dykstra's old Mets teammates, while Gooden was participating in the VH1 show Celebrity Rehab. Dykstra tried to spring Gooden from the house where the program was being shot but instead reportedly left only with Gooden's bags.

In late 2010, Hymers, according to a taped interview that police conducted with him on Feb. 14, 2011, began helping Dykstra package assets—specifically his MLB pension and a stake in the online celebrity poker site Hollywood Poker—to be sold or used as collateral to obtain loans. Dykstra promised Hymers equity in his new business Home Free Systems, ostensibly set up to help people refinance predatory home mortgages. Dykstra had also introduced Hymers to Sheen, with whom Hymers hoped to partner on an energy drink with the slogan, "Sheen power, Sheen blood, Sheen energy." Hymers also wanted to market an electronic cigarette called the Nico-Sheen through a company called Vapor Rush. Vapor Rush, which lists Hymers as the CFO on its website, filed for a Nico-Sheen trademark on April 4, 2011, according to records from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Later that month, TMZ reported that Nico-Sheen would be billed as the "winning E-cigarette" and Dykstra would be a partner in the venture.

Hymers was dazzled by the possibility of earning money with Sheen; in a second police interview, on March 22, 2011, he referred to Dykstra as "Sheen rich and cash poor." Hymers also portrayed himself to Contreras as a friend who tried to help Dykstra, of whom Hymers told police, "Some nights he'll be in Beverly Hills staying in a hotel, and other nights he'll be in his car." He recounted trying to take Dykstra to his church: Hymers said Dykstra immediately claimed to smell mold in the church and had an insurance adjuster come to the building after hours to inspect it, claiming that the adjuster was a friend who would give him a kickback if there was money to be made from a claim. "I've never been good with profiling people," Hymers told Contreras. "Lenny took advantage of that."

Hymers had done some tax work for Hernandez and had Hernandez's personal information stored on his laptop. In the fall of 2010, Hymers had filed a police report saying that his Dell laptop had been stolen. In his Valentine's Day 2011 interview with Contreras, Hymers said that it was taken when he fell asleep during a late night working with Dykstra in a room at the Intercontinental hotel in L.A. When he woke up, Dykstra told him a prostitute had come in, threatened him with a taser and taken the laptop. "You believe that?" Contreras asked incredulously.

In 2010 a former Dykstra personal assistant that Contreras tracked down had passed along a tip: Dykstra never erases any of his Yahoo! e-mail. Contreras submitted a search warrant to Yahoo! and, on Feb. 16, 2011, two days after Hernandez and Hymers visited the station, reams of Dykstra's e-mails arrived. LAPD computer crimes officer Maurice Kwon found among them copies of pay stubs from Home Free Systems made out to Jessica Costa, a then 35-year-old model and single mother of five who had met Dykstra at a party in the fall of 2010. In an e-mail to SI last month, she said that "modeling is not my dream job, I studied electrical engineering, however it pays the bills."

According to LAPD records, when Contreras first visited Costa, on Feb. 22, 2011, she told him that she knew Dykstra but had never done any work for Home Free Systems and did not receive any of the money indicated in the pay stubs. In the Home Free Systems documents, Costa was portrayed as the company's sales director—at a supposed salary of $120,000 per year—and a credit application in her name was used in November 2010 to lease a Porsche 911 for Dykstra from a dealership in Newport Beach.

According to prosecutors, Home Free Systems was a company in name only. Account statements for the company proved, after Contreras contacted the banks represented, to be fakes allegedly made on a personal computer. (Dykstra contends Home Free Systems is a legitimate business.) Before the Home Free Systems website went down last year, SI contacted Moshe Mortner, a New York lawyer who worked with Dykstra on his bankruptcy case and was the sole partner listed on the Home Free Systems site. Mortner was surprised to hear that he was listed as a partner. "Maybe in the loose sense of the word," he said, "[but] not a business partner."

E-mails between Costa and Dykstra show that Costa had misgivings about procuring the Porsche, but that Dykstra encouraged her by suggesting that he would help her purchase a house. In an e-mail Dykstra sent to Costa on Nov. 6, 2010, in response to her concerns about who would make the car payments, Dykstra writes, "come on Jessica, they call it the Top 1% for a f------ reason!" He concluded the message saying, in all capital letters, that "EVERYTHING WILL BE OK ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS FOLLOW THESE STEPS AND YOU WILL BE FINE, JUST FINISH OFF WHAT WE NEED WITH THE CARS AND YOU AND YOUR FAMILY WILL BE FINE."

The Porsche was leased using Costa's personal information and a credit application that appears to bear her signature stating her employment with Home Free Systems. Costa, who according to Orange County Court Records pleaded guilty in December 2011 to fraud, maintained to SI that she never went to the dealership with Dykstra and that Dykstra stole her personal information and forged her signature. According to police, the whereabouts of the Porsche are unknown.

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