Former St. Louis Blues player Mike Danton admitted yesterday that he tried to have his agent killed in a murder-for-hire plot that was foiled by the would-be hit man, who turned out to be a police department employee.
Danton pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit interstate murder for hire in federal court in East St. Louis, Ill. The 23-year-old center, whose contract was not renewed by the Blues after last season, faces a seven- to 10-year prison term and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced on Oct. 22, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Clark, the lead prosecutor in the case.
"We certainly feel that this is a just result," Clark said in a telephone interview. He declined to comment on the specifics of the case.
Yesterday's development provided another turn in a bizarre tale that began on April 14, when Danton -- who at the time was in San Jose for the Blues' first-round playoff matchup -- called his girlfriend, Katie Wolfmeyer, and asked her if she would help him hire a hit man to murder his agent, David Frost.
Wolfmeyer, who faces identical conspiracy charges, put Danton in contact with the would-be hit man, Justin Jones, a Columbia, Ill., police dispatcher who was identified for the first time in court yesterday.
Wolfmeyer has pleaded not guilty.
Jones reported the plot to police after Danton promised to pay him $10,000 to kill Frost and make the murder appear like part of a botched burglary, according to court documents. Authorities secretly taped some of the telephone conversations Danton had with Jones and Wolfmeyer, a 19-year-old college student from suburban St. Louis who had occasionally dated Danton.
In one of the recorded phone calls, Danton -- a relatively obscure fourth-line player -- told Jones and Wolfmeyer that the target would be in his apartment on April 15. In another conversation, Wolfmeyer said Danton told her : "I owe you guys so much," to which she replied, "Yeah, you do."
Frost was unharmed. He initially denied being the target of Danton's plot.
Investigators have said that Danton wanted Frost dead because he was worried the agent was going to ruin his career by telling Blues management of his addiction to alcohol and his promiscuous lifestyle.
Frost's voicemail at his Ontario-based office said he would have no further comment on the matter until after Danton's sentencing. The NHL had no comment.
Danton, a native of Brampton, Ontario, was scheduled to be tried along with Wolfmeyer. Her trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 1.
Danton, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, hung his head as U.S. District Judge William Stiehl made the case against him. He simply answered the judge's questions with a "yes" or "no" before saying, "I plead guilty."
Danton hopes to serve his prison term in Canada, and prosecutors have said they will not oppose that request. Stiehl explained to Danton that any such agreement may prevent him from re-entering the United States.
Atlanta Thrashers star Dany Heatley was indicted on vehicular homicide and five other charges in the 2003 wreck that claimed the life of a teammate.
Fulton County, Ga., police estimated that Heatley was driving his black Ferrari convertible between 60 and 90 mph on a curved road in a residential area when it ran into a brick pillar and iron fence on Sept. 29, 2003.
Dan Snyder, 25, died after several days in a coma, and Heatley broke his jaw and tore two ligaments in his knee. He returned to play with the team in January.
Authorities said Heatley had consumed some alcohol but was not intoxicated at the time of the wreck.
There is no mandatory prison sentence for the crimes.
Staff researcher Julie Tate and the Associated Press contributed to this report.