In April of 2004, Mike Danton
(or Mike Jefferson, depending on who you
speak to) and 19-year-old Katie Wolfmeyer were arrested and charged
with hiring a hit man to kill Mike's agent, David Frost. News reports
didn't admit to Frost being the alleged target at first, but as more
and more details surfaced, the more obvious it became.
The reason I'm choosing to archive
this story on this site is because the parallels between this case and
Sheldon's were too similar to be passed off. Not only that, but in the
days following the arrest, Sheldon's name was mentioned twice in two
different posts on two different boards. So I did a little research,
and decided that details about the case should be posted here.
Following are the April, 2004
articles regarding the case.
Case "Hit Man" Works for Police, A Source Says (4/20/04)
For Disaster - Danton, Agent Have Checkered History (4/20/04)
Agent: Mike Danton Entangled in David Frost's World (4/21/04)
Frost Boys: Agent's Relationship With Young Boys Troubling (4/21/04)
Known as Tough, Frost as Manipulative (4/22/04)
Attorney Refuses to ID Alleged Target (4/22/04)
Outlines Case Versus Wolfmeyer (4/22/04)
Remains in Federal Custody (4/23/04)
Family Hopes to Connect Again (4/24/04)
Danton's Fall (4/24/04)
Accomplice Enters Not Guilty Plea (4/29/04)
Arraigned in Murder Plot (4/29/04)
Danton case "hit man"
works for the police, a source says
By Michael Shawr
Published: Tuesday, Apr. 20 2004
Two circumstances appear to have
thwarted what authorities have described as a murder-for-hire plot by
Blues player Mike Danton to kill his agent.
One was the choice of a young
dispatcher for the Columbia, Ill., police as a hit man. A source identified
him Tuesday as Justin Levi Jones, 19.
The other was a swift effort among
local and federal authorities in three states to ensnare Danton early
Friday, after Jones called authorities Thursday morning.
Danton, 23, and Katie Koester
Wolfmeyer, 19, of Florissant, were arrested last week on federal charges
of conspiracy and using a telephone in interstate commerce to set up
Investigators said Danton enlisted
Wolfmeyer's help to find a killer, and that she turned to Jones, even
though she knew where he worked.
Dan Kelley, the sheriff of Monroe
County, who once employed Jones as an intern, put voice Tuesday to a
question many must have asked quietly: "If you know (Jones) and
know he worked for a law enforcement agency, why would you call him?"
There was no answer from officials.
Danton remained in jail near San
Jose, Calif., where he was arrested Friday morning. He awaits a transfer
to court in East St. Louis, where the case was filed.
Kelley said Jones' internship
involved working two to three hours a week with the sheriff's department
for two semesters before Jones graduated last spring from Waterloo High
The school's principal, Todd Manning,
said Tuesday, "He was really focused on what he wants to do. He's
a good kid."
Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards
declined to comment.
Jones, contacted at home Tuesday
by a reporter, said he could not discuss the case and referred questions
to the FBI.
Federal prosecutors say Danton
called Wolfmeyer last week, asking her to help him find someone who
would kill a hired killer who Danton claimed was coming from Canada
to kill him over a debt.
Wolfmeyer presumably knew Danton
through her work at the Blues' practice rink at St. Louis Mills in Hazelwood;
court documents said she had a "personal relationship" with
the Blues forward. It was not clear how she knew Jones.
Prosecutors say Danton offered
$10,000 to perform the killing in his apartment in Brentwood, while
the hockey player was with his team in San Jose. When Jones and Wolfmeyer
showed up at Danton's apartment about midnight Thursday, it was not
a hit man inside but Danton's longtime agent and mentor, David Frost,
Frost has denied he was the target
of a murder plot. He could not be reached for further comment on Tuesday.
But sources said he was the one Danton intended to have killed.
A motive was not immediately clear.
Court documents said Danton and his intended target had argued the night
of April 13 about issues of drinking and promiscuity and that Danton
had begged the target not to tell the Blues general manager and ruin
his career. Danton scored a goal April 13 in a 4-3 playoff loss to the
San Jose Sharks at Savvis Center.
Frost has said the case has nothing
to do with drugs or alcohol and that there was never anyone threatening
to go the GM with any information. Blues teammates also have said they
rarely saw Danton drink alcohol.
Authorities later recorded a sobbing
Danton telling the target in a phone call that he "felt backed
into a corner and also felt the acquaintance was going to leave him,"
the complaint against Danton said. So Danton "decided to have him
A check of court records in Monroe
County showed that Jones, who still lives in Waterloo, was placed under
court supervision last June after pleading guilty of misdemeanor battery
in an incident at the high school in which he was accused of slapping
another student and pushing him against a urinal. Jones paid $75 in
court costs and $441 to the student.
Jeremy Kohler and Derrick Goold
of the Post-Dispatch staff contributed to this report.
Reporter Michael Shaw
Courtesy St. Louis Today.
Back to Top
Destined for disaster
Danton, agent have checkered history
By MICHAEL O'KEEFFE and T.J. QUINN
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITERS
As a member of the Devils, Mike Danton (r.) was a fighter on and off
In the tempestuous, incestuous world of Canadian youth hockey, there
are two things insiders say they're sure about.
First, there's more to the story behind St. Louis Blues player Mike
Danton's alleged murder-for-hire plot. Second, Danton and his agent,
David Frost, were destined for calamity.
"There were a lot of red flags around (Frost)," says William
Markle, an NHL agent who has known Frost for years. "I never felt
comfortable with him."
Frost, who denied a report by St. Louis media outlets that he was Danton's
alleged target, is infamous in Canada's minor hockey circuit. He has
been called a Svengali who "brainwashed" young players under
his care since they were pre-teens. He has been banned from two leagues.
He has been accused of assaulting players.
But whether Danton - who changed his last name from Jefferson two years
ago - intended to kill Frost or not, men who know them both say their
relationship has always been controversial, and the latest chapter just
adds to the mystery.
"It's weird. I don't know what's going on and I don't want to know,"
says John Gardner, president of the Greater Toronto Hockey Association,
one of the leagues that banned Frost.
Despite early assumptions that Danton was trying to avoid being outed
as gay - easily drawn from the wording in the FBI's criminal complaint
- Gardner and others say they did not suspect that Frost, married with
a child, was sexually involved with players.
But observers said Frost's players always seemed like they were completely
under his control.
"They were programmed to say what they said. It didn't sound like
14- or 15-year-olds," Gardner says.
League officials also questioned their behavior. When Frost was coaching
the Brampton (Ont.) junior team in the winter of 1993-94, the league
wanted to suspend the entire team for being "undisciplined and
unruly," says Brett Ladds, president of Ontario Hockey Association.
The team owner appealed the league's decision, saying the team would
fire Frost and post a $5,000 bond to guarantee good behavior. The league
relented and put the team on probation for two years, and asked Frost
to come to officials and explain himself. He never did - and is still
"We don't know if he sent the kids out to fight or if he had no
control," Ladds says. "But either way, we wanted to talk to
him about it. He's not allowed to coach in our association until he
comes to talk to us."
Two seasons later, Frost was suspended by Gardner's league for allegedly
forging a signature on a document, a charge Frost has denied.
Less than a year later, still serving as a coach, Frost was charged
with assaulting a player on his team. He pleaded guilty, but later said
in an interview that he did so only to avoid putting the team through
the legal ringer.
When Frost coached the Ontario Hockey League's St. Michael's Majors
team during the 1998-99 season, Danton (then Jefferson) and three other
teens not only played for Frost, they lived with him in a hotel.
"I told ownership to get them out of the motel and get them properly
billeted," Markle says, describing inadequate nutrition and supervision.
"Those kids were not properly cared for by any stretch of the imagination."
All four players were traded to another club in 1999, and press accounts
at the time quoted sources as saying that St. Michael's simply wanted
to be rid of Frost.
The Devils drafted Danton in 2000, but he was soon at odds with the
team. During the 2001-02 season, Danton refused a minor-league assignment,
and considered suing the club.
Since that season, his official agent has been Frost. Ladds and others
say they can't understand how Frost was certified by the NHL Players
Association, but NHLPA rules say almost anyone can be an agent as long
as a player requests his services.
Frost once coached the son of NHLPA president Bob Goodenow (and admitted
to calling him "garbage" after one game) and is described
as being close to Goodenow, but the union chief did not return calls
from the Daily News.
After the Devils traded Danton to the Blues, he seemed to find his stride
this season. However, last week, according to the FBI, he allegedly
called 19-year-old St. Louis-area woman named Katie Wolfmeyer, who was
described in the complaint as having a "personal relationship"
He wanted her to find someone to kill an unnamed man in his apartment,
who reports now say was Frost.
"Danton explained that he felt backed into a corner and also felt
that the acquaintance was going to leave him," the complaint reads,
referring to a recorded phone conversation between Danton and the alleged
target. "Danton did not want to allow the acquaintance to leave
him, therefore he decided to have him murdered."
Frost, who did not return calls yesterday, said earlier this week that
he was not the target, and that the incident has nothing to do with
sex, alcohol or drugs.
Danton's estranged father, Steve Jefferson, was quoted this week as
saying that he never should have trusted his son with Frost: "I
sold my soul to the devil," he told the Windsor Star.
Jefferson didn't always feel that way. He told a reporter in 1999, "Dave
Frost is the best thing to ever happen to my kid."
Back to Top
Wed, April 21, 2004
Mike Danton entangled in David Frost's world
By Steve Simmons, Toronto Sun
- Suspended for the first time during the 2001-02 season by New Jersey
for refusing to report to the Albany River Rats of the American Hockey
- Danton won an Ontario Hockey League championship with the Barrie Colts
- Drafted 135th overall by New Jersey after scoring 87 points in his
final year of junior hockey with Barrie.
- Danton amassed 179 points in 141 games over three Ontario Hockey League
seasons with Sarnia, Toronto and Barrie.
- At the 2000 Memorial Cup, Danton slammed Rimouski Oceanic star centre
Brad Richards, suggesting the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League player
wouldn't last five games in the Ontario league. A top-six forward with
the Tampa Bay Lightning, Richards finished tied for ninth in NHL scoring
this season with 79 points.
- Part of an eight-player Ontario Hockey League trade on Jan. 11, 1999.
Dealt to Barrie from the Toronto St. Michael's Majors along with Ryan
Barnes, Sheldon Keefe and Shawn Cation. Majors management reportedly
didn't approve of the influence agent David Frost had over the players.
- Described by former junior teammates as quiet, somewhat anti-social
when it came to off-ice outings. Reportedly refused to participate in
- Led all Ontario Hockey League players with 107 penalty minutes during
- Drafted by the Ontario Hockey League's Sarnia Sting as a 16-year-old
after collecting 28 points in 35 games for the Quinte Hawks of the Metro
Toronto Junior Hockey League. Danton became associated with controversial
agent David Frost, who at the time was an assistant coach with Quinte.
Frost has been suspended indefinitely by the Ontario Hockey Association
and the Metro Toronto Hockey League for incidents on and off the ice.
- Formed the Quinte Four along with Ryan Barnes, Sheldon Keefe and Shawn
- Danton won a bantam all-Ontario championship playing for the Toronto
Young Nationals of the Metro Toronto hockey league.
Backgrounder: Mike Danton
Trying to turn his life around, Mike Danton was still haunted by the
- Mike Danton, a centre with the St. Louis Blues, was arrested in San
Jose, Calif., on April 16, 2004 just hours after the team was ousted
by the Sharks in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. A criminal complaint
filed in a federal court in Illinois stated that Danton and a woman,
19-year-old Katie Wolfmeyer, allegedly attempted to hire a man to kill
a male acquaintance, reported to be Danton's lover.
- A 23-year-old win-at-all-cost
scrapper, Danton played all five playoff games, scoring a goal in Game
4, a 4-3 loss on April 13.
- Danton struggled to regain his
spot in the Blues' lineup late in the regular season after missing eight
games with a shoulder injury. Unlike in the past, he kept his mouth
shut and continued to work hard, a sign that Danton's career and life
seemingly had turned the corner.
- Danton cracked the Blues' lineup
out of training camp, replacing fellow pest Tyson Nash, and posted 12
points in a career-high 68 games in 2003-04.
- The Blues gave Danton a fresh
start, acquiring the physical forward in a trade with the New Jersey
Devils on June 21, 2003.
- Danton scored twice in 17 games
with New Jersey during 2002-03 season.
- A native of Brampton, Ont.,
Danton was suspended by the Devils in December 2002 when he refused
a demotion to the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Albany.
A month later, he served the Devils with legal papers, seeking to gain
his release from the team. Danton sat at home while New Jersey won the
2003 Stanley Cup.
- Known to some hockey fans as
the guy who uttered, "I'm not drinking Lou's Kool-Aid." The
comment was in reference to Devils' general manager Lou Lamoriello,
who refused to pay the medical bills when Danton sought advice on a
reported abdominal tear.
- Legally changed his last name
to Danton from Jefferson on July 25, 2002, because he wanted to distance
himself from a bad relationship with his family, including his father
Steve. Chose the name Danton because it was the first name of a boy
at a summer hockey camp, and it sounded cool.
- Suspended for the first time
during the 2001-02 season by New Jersey for refusing to report to the
Albany River Rats of the American Hockey League.
- Danton won an Ontario Hockey
League championship with the Barrie Colts in 1999-2000.
- Drafted 135th overall by New
Jersey after scoring 87 points in his final year of junior hockey with
- Danton amassed 179 points in
141 games over three Ontario Hockey League seasons with Sarnia, Toronto
- At the 2000 Memorial Cup, Danton
slammed Rimouski Oceanic star centre Brad Richards, suggesting the Quebec
Major Junior Hockey League player wouldn't last five games in the Ontario
league. A top-six forward with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Richards finished
tied for ninth in NHL scoring this season with 79 points.
- Part of an eight-player Ontario
Hockey League trade on Jan. 11, 1999. Dealt to Barrie from the Toronto
St. Michael's Majors along with Ryan Barnes, Sheldon Keefe and Shawn
Cation. Majors management reportedly didn't approve of the influence
agent David Frost had over the players.
- Described by former junior teammates
as quiet, somewhat anti-social when it came to off-ice outings. Reportedly
refused to participate in team functions.
- Led all Ontario Hockey League
players with 107 penalty minutes during 2000 playoffs.
- Drafted by the Ontario Hockey
League's Sarnia Sting as a 16-year-old after collecting 28 points in
35 games for the Quinte Hawks of the Metro Toronto Junior Hockey League.
Danton became associated with controversial agent David Frost, who at
the time was an assistant coach with Quinte. Frost has been suspended
indefinitely by the Ontario Hockey Association and the Metro Toronto
Hockey League for incidents on and off the ice.
- Formed the Quinte Four along
with Ryan Barnes, Sheldon Keefe and Shawn Cation.
- Danton won a bantam all-Ontario
championship playing for the Toronto Young Nationals of the Metro Toronto
What they're saying about Mike Danton
"It's beyond shock. I don't know what to say."
-- Doug Weight, St. Louis Blues forward
"We're worried about his
life right now and what he's going through. It's a scary thought."
-- Doug Weight
"It's tough. I don't know
what's going on."
-- Keith Tkachuk, St. Louis Blues forward
"Obviously we're all pretty
stunned by this. We don't know everything. We're definitely behind him
and just want to be there to support him. Whatever happens we're there
to help in anyway he needs."
-- Ryan Johnson, St. Louis Blues forward and Mike Danton's usual roommate
on the road.
"He had things he wanted
to get off his chest and he needed help to do so. We were setting something
up for him for the end of the season."
-- David Frost, Mike Danton's agent
"Unequivocally, I can tell
you it had nothing to do with drugs and alcohol, period. Once we get
all the facts, we'll be able to realize what really happened. He's a
good kid. He really is."
-- David Frost in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"This has nothing to do with
a gay lover or his relationship with any female. We're going to get
him some help, some treatment. He's had some issues from his younger
years that he needs to deal with."
-- David Frost in an interview with the New York Daily News, refuting
speculation that the incident involved Danton's fear of being outed
as a homosexual
"He fears absolutely nothing
and that is something I can't teach. He brings an edge."
-- Pat Burns, Mike Danton's coach with the New Jersey Devils during
the 2002-03 season.
"I don't like it and I'm
ticked off. If the team wasn't winning or I wasn't doing my job, I would
have no problem with this. I've done nothing but work my butt off for
this team. They said I wasn't being punished, but it sure does feel
like punishment to me. I'm not the type of player who is happy just
to be here and collect a paycheque."
- Mike Danton, after being scratched for a game in October 2002. A few
weeks later he was suspended for refusing a minor league assignment.
"He brings a great presence
to the dressing room, so it's just real tough to see him go through
this. I really do feel like he's family. It's unfortunate, because he's
a great guy."
-- Bryce Salvador, St. Louis Blues defenceman
"I was very shocked. I just
think it's something you don't expect to see in society let alone in
-- Todd White, Ottawa Senators forward
"It's crazy. I'm shocked.
You don't see this kind of thing too much in our sport. It really is
-- Mike Fisher, Ottawa Senators forward who also played against Danton
during their junior careers in the Ontario Hockey League.
"The matter is in the hands
of law enforcement officials and the judicial system."
-- Frank Buonomo, Blues spokesman
"Out of anyone that I've
known in hockey, I could see something wacky coming from that guy. You
could see he was a time bomb ticking. ... I feel sorry for him though,
I wouldn't wish this on anyone."
-- Ryan O'Keefe, Mike Danton's former Barrie Colts teammate
"But whatever demons haunted
him, Danton turned them into an asset on the ice. They made him a fearless
warrior. Remember the daring sight of Danton squaring off against Ottawa
defenceman Zdeno Chara? There was Danton, puffing up like some 5-foot-9-inch
banty rooster, in a brawl with a 6-foot-9 giant who's a candidate for
the NHL's Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman. That was typical
Mike Danton. Fearless, relentless, possessed."
-- Bryan Burwell, columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Back to Top
Originally published on April 21, 2004
The Frost boys: Agent's relationship with young players troubling
David Frost, the NHL agent whose career has come under scrutiny after
one of his players, Mike Danton, was arrested in a murder-for-hire plot
in the U.S., was investigated by police in 2001 after a 13-year-old
boy complained of sexual assault and threats during a lakeside vacation
attended by a few NHL players, the Citizen has learned.
Mr. Frost has been the target of intense criticism in recent weeks as
his relationship with his former players has been revealed. He has been
vilified as a Svengali-like presence in the lives of five young players
from Brampton, Ont., a relationship that has troubled parents, coaches
and hockey officials at many levels of the game.
Two of those players, Mr. Danton, who changed his name from Mike Jefferson
in 2002, and Sheldon Keefe are NHL players -- Mr. Danton with the St.
Louis Blues and Mr. Keefe with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both players
are estranged from their parents.
In 1996-1997, as coach of the Quinte Hawks, a junior team based in Deseronto,
Mr. Frost lived with three of the boys, including Mr. Keefe, in a two-room
hotel suite that became known as a place where the players and some
local girls would have sex.
According to hotel staff, he was abusive and bullying toward his players
(See Life in Room 22 in the Saturday Observer, B1). Coaches have referred
to Mr. Frost's control over his players as a spell; some have called
it cult-like. "I felt he controlled his boys -- no doubt about
that," said Hockey Hall of Fame member and Ottawa 67's coach, Brian
Kilrea. "And as a coach, well, I found him very difficult to deal
with." He has also been accused of coaching from the stands with
hand signals and isolating his special group of five from other players
and their parents. In October, when Mr. Frost criticized Tampa Bay coach
John Tortorella for not calling Mr. Keefe up from the minors, Mr. Tortorella
responded by calling Mr. Frost "an idiot." Tampa Bay GM Jay
Feaster added the best thing for Mr. Keefe's career "is for David
Frost to shut up."
After Mr. Danton was arrested with his girlfriend on April 16 for conspiring
with his girlfriend to hire a hitman to kill an unnamed male acquaintance,
Mr. Frost's was named in several U.S. reports as the intended target,
a fact Mr. Frost denies.
The case against Mr. Danton is anchored in telephone conversations between
the accused conspirators, the hitman and the intended target, including
one recorded conversation in which a desperate Mr. Danton says: "I'm
pretty much begging" and "I wouldn't resort to this if it
wasn't a matter of life and death." After police learned of the
murder-for-hire scheme, the target agreed to record a conversation with
the player, in which he asked why he wanted him killed. The player broke
down and sobbed, saying he felt "backed into a corner and also
felt that the acquaintance was going to leave him. Danton did not want
to allow the acquaintance to leave him, therefore decided to have him
murdered," according to an FBI affidavit filed in court.
Until now, the 2001 police investigation
into the sexual assault allegations at the lake in Eastern Ontario in
June 2000 has never been made public. No charges were laid, but the
boy, almost three years later, stands by his story. Mr. Frost denies
the allegations, insisting it was the boy's idea, as do others present
who gave statements to police. But none of the witness statements indicate
that any of the adults present stopped it.
On June 20, 2001, a psychologist contacted the Children's Aid Society
after he was shown a photograph of the 13-year-old boy, half-naked and
bound to a bed, according to a police file. The complaint to the child-protection
agency sparked a year-long Ontario Provincial Police investigation,
central to which was the boy's assertion he felt he was pressured to
take part in the alleged "initiation." "They taped me
naked and everyone was there. They took pictures of me. It was embarrassing
and humiliating. It hurt me inside ... It ruined my confidence,"
the boy, a promising hockey player who still hopes for an NHL career
and who has not been coached or advised by Mr. Frost, told the Citizen.
The boy also complained that Mr. Frost pointed a pellet gun at him and
demanded that he strip naked and stand on a table.
But according to Mr. Frost, now 36, and videotaped statements by at
least five witnesses, the boy's version of events is completely false.
"The allegation regarding being tied to the bed post is portrayed
incorrectly by (the boy), he in fact was a willing participant, joking
... bragging that he could 'get out no problem', 'Do it.' Everyone was
laughing and joking at this time and there was obviously no aggression,
malice or abusive behaviour involved," according to a witness statement.
"This witness asked (the boy) at least three times if he was OK,
or if it was too tight and he replied 'Don't worry, I'll get out' and
he did free himself. He instigated this himself and at the time he was
wearing boxer shorts. At no time was he forced to do anything against
his will nor was he under any stress," according to a witness statement.
All the statements maintain it was the boy who had the pellet gun, not
Mr. Frost, and that he was shooting birds. They describe the boy as
"wild and obnoxious." Another witness explained it away as
a joke, recalling that someone said, "be quiet or I'll tie you
up." According to this witness statement, the boy replied: "Go
ahead, I'll get out." "This witness watched the incident and
saw (the boy) break out of the tape and witnessed him laughing and having
fun." Another witness said the boy was a "willing participant"
and was "laughing and asking for it to be done repeatedly."
The boy, who is now 17, doesn't back down from his story. "I told
you exactly what happened. What I told you is the truth. I wish someone
could just do something about it. Why would someone want this stuff
to happen to them? I was using the pellet gun. A pellet gun is for fun,
but I wasn't pointing it at myself. (Mr. Frost) was using it as a weapon
to make me do things," he claimed. The boy also complained that
one day by the lake, Mr. Frost drew a pellet gun again, this time ordering
the boy up a tree, demanding that he start climbing. The boy said when
he refused, Mr. Frost threatened him with the pellet gun. The boy said
he was also offered money. He climbed up and ended up falling.
"I was scared he was going to shoot me," the boy said. But
witnesses said the boy volunteered with great enthusiasm when Mr. Frost
offered anyone $50 to climb the tree and retrieve a snagged fishing
lure. "(The boy) tried to get the lure twice, he was joking about
winning the money and laughing. At no time was he forced to do anything
he did and there was no pellet gun or any gun present at this time,"
one witness said. The boy also told the Citizen that he got so drunk
one night that he vomited. But witness statements say he only had one
drink and moments later, the boy "started to act foolish and was
jumping on a table and dancing under his own power without any duress."
Mr. Frost, who was the subject of the investigation, directs all questions
about the case to high profile Ottawa lawyer Michael Edelson, who represented
the agent during the 2001 investigation.
"I can tell you that in reference
to the statements that were taken from my clients in 2002, that I can
count on the fingers of one hand, in 28 years of practising criminal
law, that I have had clients who had been properly advised by me who
were insistent on coming forward and making statements to the police,
providing a full account of the events surrounding the allegations the
police were making so that they would have their explanation prior to
determining whether charges would be laid," Mr. Edelson says. "In
this case, all of the individuals who were under investigation, came
forward, made full videotaped statements in which they answered every
question that was posed to them by the police. In the end, the police
took the file to the senior Crown attorney in Brockville (Curt Flanagan)
and after a lengthy review, he determined no charges would be laid."
Neither Sgt. Terry Blace, of the OPP headquarters in Orillia, nor the
Crown attorney involved would comment on the case. When asked why a
13-year-old boy would make up such a story, Mr. Edelson said yesterday
that witnesses had told him that the boy was "out of control"
and upset with life at home and trouble at school. Other witness statements
have reported that the boy's father had a vendetta against Mr. Frost.
The photograph that sparked the investigation was found by a family
friend who took it to the parents who, in turn, showed it to the psychologist.
It was seized by police as evidence. The Citizen has reviewed two other
photographs, one showing guests at the kitchen table drinking Budweiser
and Blue beer. The guests at the cottage took many photographs of one
another -- including a series of photographs of the boy, shown with
his forearms bound by hockey tape to the step-ladder of a bunk bed.
The boy's parents say they did not go to authorities until the photograph
surfaced, saying that until then they had no "proof" to support
his story. Mr. Frost was not charged with any crime and does not have
a criminal record. In 1997, he pleaded guilty to assaulting a player
he was coaching, but won a conditional discharge in open court.
Reach Gary Dimmock at email@example.com, Greg McArthur
© The Ottawa Citizen 2004
Copyright © 2004 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest Global
Communications Corp. All rights reserved.
Back to Top
Thursday, April 22, 2004
Danton known as tough, Frost as manipulative
ST. LOUIS -- NHL tough guy Mike
Danton relishes his role as the mouthy player who gets under his opponents'
skin, racking up 141 minutes in penalties this season with the St. Louis
But now he is behind bars, accused of trying to get someone to kill
his agent, a man with a sinister reputation as a hockey-world Svengali.
The arrest last week has raised disturbing questions about both Danton
and his agent, David Frost. Frost insists Danton never wanted him dead
and is in dire need of counseling. Danton's estranged father blames
Frost for his son's emotional problems.
The FBI brought the charges Friday in East St. Louis, Ill., accusing
Danton, 23, of trying to hire a hit man for $10,000 to kill someone
at his suburban St. Louis apartment. The intended victim was not identified
in court papers, but news reports citing unidentified law enforcement
sources have said Frost was the target.
U.S. attorney Ronald Tenpas again refused to confirm or deny that it
"We are not identifying the acquaintance by name," Tenpas
said, citing the potential victim's privacy.
Danton and a woman authorities say helped him were indicted by a federal
grand jury Thursday on charges of conspiring to arrange a murder for
According to the FBI, Danton wanted Frost dead because he feared Frost
would ruin his career by telling the Blues' front office about Danton's
supposed "promiscuity and use of alcohol."
Also arrested in the alleged plot was Katie Wolfmeyer, a 19-year-old
who worked at a mall where the Blues have a practice rink. Authorities
said Danton went to her for help in finding a killer and she put him
in touch with another man, unaware he was working for the FBI.
Danton allegedly told the informant that he wanted the killing to take
place at his home April 15 -- while Danton was in California -- and
that he wanted it to look like a burglary gone bad.
Wolfmeyer was arrested hours later as she showed up with the informant
at Danton's place, where Frost was said to be inside. Authorities caught
up with Danton the next day in San Jose, Calif., where the Blues had
been eliminated from the playoffs.
A federal prosecutor said Danton was being brought back to Illinois.
His lawyer did not return calls for comment.
During a court appearance Monday, Wolfmeyer's attorney Donald Groshong
called her "the real victim" and a "young girl smitten
with a hockey player who lied to her." He did not elaborate.
Danton's involvement with Frost dates back a dozen years. Danton's father,
Stephen Jefferson, introduced the boy to Frost. By the time Danton was
15, Frost was serving as the Ontario native's agent. In 1999, Jefferson
called the agent "the best thing to ever happen to my kid."
But Jefferson claims it wasn't long before Frost took over the boy's
Some in Canada's hockey circles have cast Frost as a monster, a manipulator
of young players, a cult leader whose disciples are often too afraid
to speak out against him. John Gardner, head of the Greater Toronto
Hockey League, told the Toronto Star this week that Frost "practiced
Frost used to be a coach but was suspended by two junior hockey leagues
in Ontario in the mid-1990s, in one case because of his team's unruly
play. In 1997, he pleaded guilty to a charge that he assaulted one of
Others have said he was a positive influence when he coached, dutifully
making sure his players did their schoolwork.
"I didn't come into this business to make friends," the Toronto
Sun quoted Frost as saying in 1999. "I've heard the brainwash stuff,
that I brainwash players. You know how crazy that is? If I was that
smart, I would brainwash 20 of them and we would go win the Stanley
"I know I'm a rebel and an intimidating person," he said.
But he added: "I don't care who I rub the wrong way. I'm not about
to change. Not for anybody."
While playing in Canada, Danton was known to teammates as a quiet sort
who did not go out much, the Toronto Star said.
"He never [went] out to the bars, never saw him with anyone outside
hockey," Ryan O'Keefe, Danton's teammate with the Barrie Colts,
told that newspaper. "I've known himself since I was a kid, and
basically his whole life revolves around hockey."
Danton's biggest liability has been his mouth: He groused about playing
time as a New Jersey Devils rookie in 2002 and was suspended for failing
to report to the minors. He sat out most of the previous season after
a disagreement with the Devils' management over the severity of an abdominal
Between those seasons, Danton legally changed his name from Mike Jefferson,
apparently to distance himself from his family.
After Danton's arrest, his father accused Frost of ruining Danton's
life and driving a wedge between father and son. Frost countered by
calling Jefferson a "village idiot."
Traded to the Blues last year, Danton had seven goals, 12 points and
141 penalty minutes this season -- all career highs. His work ethic
was considered strong, his skill level moderate.
Five-foot-9, 190-pound Danton played the role of the "agitator."
"I don't know a tougher guy than him. I don't know a guy that goes
in the corner and gets killed and that will drop his gloves with a guy
who's 40 pounds heavier in a flash," Blues forward Doug Weight
said. "He's tough as nails."
Blues offer support
The following statement was released
Thursday by St. Louis Blues players:
"We are releasing this statement because we believe our teammate
Mike Danton is being unfairly portrayed by the media. Mike is our teammate
and friend who has battled hard every night on the ice for us all and
played with no fear. He was immediately accepted into our locker room
as a jovial, fun to be around, yet focused teammate.
"As teammates, we want to lend our support to Mike Danton and tell
everyone about the player and person we know. The media's portrayal
of Mike has not been balanced and has not accurately reflected the character
of the person we have spent the past 215-plus days with.
"We want Mike Danton and the public to know that we support him,
are here for him and will stand by him during this difficult time."
Back to Top
Thursday, April 22, 2004
U.S. attorney refuses to ID alleged target
ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues forward
Mike Danton and a woman were indicted Thursday in Illinois on federal
charges they schemed to kill an acquaintance of the hockey player.
The counts mirror those of a criminal complaint filed in East St. Louis,
Ill., against Danton and Katie Wolfmeyer, accusing the two of conspiring
to hire a hit man and of using a telephone across state lines to set
Danton, 23, was arrested Friday in California, a day after the Blues
were eliminated from the playoffs.
Federal authorities say Danton tried to pay $10,000 for the murder of
an unidentified acquaintance at Danton's suburban St. Louis apartment.
The men argued April 13 over Danton's "promiscuity and use of alcohol,"
and Danton feared the acquaintance would talk to Blues management and
ruin Danton's career, authorities say.
Wolfmeyer, 19, apparently was unaware the supposed contract killer she
allegedly was helping hire was secretly working with the FBI.
Ronald Tenpas, the U.S. attorney for Illinois' southern district, on
Thursday refused to confirm media accounts, quoting unnamed law enforcement
sources, that Danton's agent, David Frost, perhaps was the target of
the murder-for-hire scheme.
"We are not identifying the acquaintance by name," Tenpas
said, citing the potential victim's privacy.
Wolfmeyer made her initial appearance Monday in federal court in East
St. Louis, Ill., then was freed on $100,000 bond and scheduled for a
preliminary hearing April 30.
Though Wolfmeyer's attorney has said his client had been lied to by
Danton, Tenpas said, "I believe that the facts as laid out in the
affidavit show this was more than a momentary lapse in judgment."
Tenpas said Wolfmeyer had been told by the FBI informant that he had
stopped to pick up a gun when she was leading him to the apartment the
night of the would-be killing.
Danton came to the Blues in a June trade from the New Jersey Devils,
where he had been twice suspended for disciplinary reasons. This season,
Danton had seven goals, 12 points and 141 penalty minutes, tied for
most on the team.
Back to Top
Prosecutor outlines case versus
By Michael Shaw
Published: Thursday, Apr. 22 2004
Katie Wolfmeyer was an active
participant in Blues hockey player Mike Danton's
murder-for-hire scheme, the top federal prosecutor for Southern Illinois
Thursday in announcing the indictment of both.
The indictment is a formality
that added no new information to the criminal complaint filed against
the two a week ago.
But in a news conference, U.S.
Attorney Ronald Tenpas saw fit to highlight the government's claims
against Wolfmeyer, 19. He emphasized that she had put Danton in touch
with a potential killer and acted as a guide to the intended victim
even "after being told by the (supposed hit man) that he had stopped
to get a gun."
Tenpas added, "The facts
clearly suggest this was more than a momentary lapse of judgment."
The would-be hit man, who was
acquainted with Wolfmeyer, turned out to be a Columbia, Ill., police
dispatcher who quickly told his bosses and then the FBI about the plan.
Nobody was hurt.
Tenpas may have been reacting
to comments Monday from Don Groshong, Wolfmeyer's lawyer, who described
her as a swooning victim duped by Danton.
Wolfmeyer is a nursing student
and volleyball player at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley,
who according to the federal complaint had a "personal relationship"
Noting her clean record, a federal
magistrate judge released her on bond Monday. Danton remained in custody
in California, where he was arrested last week, pending return to this
Danton's attorney, St. Louis-based
Robert Haar, said Thursday he went to San Jose earlier this week and
met with Danton for the first time. He said Danton was, "hanging
in there through what's been a difficult time."
Of Thursday's indictment, Haar
said: "The events described in both the indictment and the complaint
are inconsistent with the Mike Danton his friends and people close to
him know. It is a bizarre and incomprehensible story, and he will be
pleading not guilty at the arraignment."
Danton, 23, and Wolfmeyer are
accused of conspiring to kill an acquaintance of Danton's who was at
Danton's apartment in Brentwood last week. Law enforcement sources have
identified the acquaintance as Danton's agent, David Frost, although
Frost has denied it.
Tenpas deflected all questions
Thursday about the man's identity, even when asked directly if it was
When asked about a motive, Tenpas
generally restated what was in the original complaint: that the Danton
had argued with the acquaintance last week over "Danton's promiscuity
and use of alcohol" and that Danton feared the man would take his
concerns to Blues management.
The grand jury indictment, which
takes the case closer to trial, repeats accusations in the complaint
that Danton and Wolfmeyer engaged in an interstate conspiracy to commit
murder, and used a telephone as part of it.
A federal grand jury has 16 to
23 people, who hear the government's evidence in secret and decide whether
there is enough evidence for a trial. At least 12 votes are needed for
If convicted, Danton and Wolfmeyer
could face up to 10 years in prison on each of two counts.
On Thursday, Jamal Mayers, the
Blues team's player representative, issued a statement signed by fellow
"We believe our teammate
Mike Danton is being unfairly portrayed by the media," read the
statement, which noted that it was not from the Blues organization.
"Mike is our teammate and
friend who has battled hard every night on the ice for us all and played
with no fear. He was immediately accepted into our locker room as a
jovial, fun-to-be-around, yet focused teammate.
"We want Mike Danton and
the public to know that we support him, are here for him and will stand
by him during this difficult time."
Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch
contributed to this report.
Back to Top
Friday, April 23, 2004
Danton remains in federal custody
ESPN.com news services
ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues forward
Mike Danton will plead not guilty to federal charges that he tried to
hire a hit man to kill an acquaintance, his lawyer said Friday.
"The complaint tells a very bizarre, incomprehensible story that's
inconsistent with what all of Mike Danton's teammates and those close
to him know about him," attorney Bob Haar said. "We will be
entering a plea of not guilty at the time of the arraignment."
Also Friday, ESPN's Jeremy Schaap and Gare Joyce learned of a former
investigation of an incident involving Danton's brother and the reported
target of the alleged murder plot.
Some media have identified David Frost, Danton's longtime agent, as
the target, although Frost has said repeatedly that that's not the case.
ESPN has learned that Frost, who once pleaded guilty to assaulting a
player on a team he was coaching, was investigated three years ago by
the Ontario Provincial Police for an alleged incident involving Tom
Jefferson. Jefferson is Danton's younger brother and a top prospect
The alleged incident took place at a residence owned by Frost. Jeff
Jefferson, uncle to both Tom Jefferson and Mike Danton, who changed
his last name to Danton two years ago, confirmed that the investigation
No charges stemming from the alleged incidents were ever filed against
Frost. Repeated attempts by ESPN to reach Frost for comment were unsuccessful.
It is uncertain when Danton's arraignment will happen. The player, arrested
in San Jose, Calif., a day after the San Jose Sharks beat the Blues
to eliminate them from the NHL playoffs, remains in federal custody.
Haar said the U.S. Marshal's Service, partly for security reasons, does
not disclose when a suspect will be moved. "All we have gotten
is very rough predictions from a couple of days to a couple of weeks,"
Haar said. "Unfortunately, it's not a process we have any influence
On Thursday, a federal prosecutor said Danton was being brought back
to Illinois to face the charges.
Danton and an alleged accomplice, 19-year-old Katie Wolfmeyer, of the
St. Louis suburb Florissant, were indicted Thursday by a federal grand
jury on charges of conspiring to arrange a murder for hire and using
a telephone across state lines to arrange it.
Wolfmeyer was freed Monday to the custody of her parents on $100,000
Federal authorities said that Danton, with Wolfmeyer's help, tried to
hire a hit man for $10,000 to murder an unidentified acquaintance at
Danton's suburban St. Louis apartment. Federal authorities said the
men argued April 13 over Danton's "promiscuity and use of alcohol."
Danton allegedly feared the acquaintance would talk to Blues management
and ruin Danton's career.
Wolfmeyer was accused of contacting the would-be hit man, who alerted
Ronald Tenpas, the U.S. Attorney for Illinois' southern district, asserted
that Wolfmeyer, who had a "personal relationship" with Danton,
had ample time to reconsider her choice to help in the plot, but did
not. She not only found someone who said he'd do the killing, she led
the man to Danton's apartment building, Tenpas said.
Tenpas and other authorities refuse to identify the person Danton is
accused of wanting dead. Media reports, citing unidentified sources,
maintained the target was Frost.
Danton came to the Blues in a June trade from the New Jersey Devils
, where he had been twice suspended for disciplinary reasons. This season,
Danton -- serving as a fourth-line agitator -- had seven goals, 12 points
and 141 penalty minutes, which tied him for most on the team.
Blues players released a statement Thursday in support of their teammate,
saying they wanted to "tell everyone about the player and person
we know. The media's portrayal of Mike has not been balanced and has
not accurately reflected the character of the person we have spent the
past 215-plus days with."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Back to Top
Danton's family hopes to connect
By Derrick Goold
Published: Saturday, Apr. 24 2004
BRAMPTON, Ontario - For hours
after he found out his brother had been arrested and accused of a murder-for-hire
plot, Tom Jefferson was on the phone dialing as swift and often as his
phone would let him, trying relentlessly to get in touch with Mike Danton.
Until 4 a.m., he was dialing the
California jail - three time zones away from his Brampton, Ontario,
home - where Danton was being held.
Tom tried everything. He even
called Danton's agent, Dave Frost, and asked how to get in touch with
his brother. He pleaded with anyone at the jail who would listen.
"I just wanted to talk to
him," said Tom, 17. "He think no one cares about him and that's
just not true. I wanted to tell him we do." Eight days later he
hasn't spoken to his brother.
Danton, 23, the forward for the
St. Louis Blues, remains in a California jail awaiting extradition to
the St. Louis area. On Thursday, Danton and a 19-year-old woman were
indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit murder for hire. The arrest
has led to an exhumation of Danton's background, his relationship with
his agent and mentor, his deteriorated relationship with his family,
a past Ontario police investigation and a tangled nest of allegations
Danton's father, Stephen Jefferson,
has been publicly imploring Danton to get away from his agent, Frost,
and talking with numerous media outlets all week. Frost, who a police
source says was the target of the murder-for-hire plot, has accused
Danton's father of neglecting and abusing Danton, whose name was Mike
Jefferson before a legal change. Danton's father denies the charges.
About the only thing Frost and
Mike Jefferson agree on is that Danton needs counseling.
Family followed career
Tom Jefferson would just like
to talk to his brother. Jefferson has become a hockey player much like
Mike - a scrapper, a speedy agitator, ready to hit, fight, score, whatever.
He is represented by hockey's golden boy Bobby Orr and was drafted by
the Windsor Spitfires, where he'll report in August.
It's been four years since any
of them have seen Mike. It's been several years since Stephen Jefferson
last talked to Mike, the father said. They've followed his career -
which started to bloom this season, his first with the Blues - on television
and in newspapers. But they have been unable to talk with him. They
say Frost has kept them from their son. Frost said Danton legally changed
his last name for a reason.
On Danton's recent birthday - Oct. 21 - Tom got his brother's e-mail
address and sent him best wishes. There was no response.
When Danton arrives in St. Louis,
Tom and his mother, Sue, plan on making the trip south to see him.
"I don't expect him to be
happy to see us," Tom Jefferson said. "It's been that way
my whole life. I'm used to it. I think it will be that way, but I would
still like to see him. I would like to talk to him."
Met Frost at age 11
Sue Jefferson remembers the smell
of the last time she said she saw her son. It was summer, just after
it had rained. The foliage was lushly green. It was
cool, and Mike Jefferson - he was still Jefferson then
- was at the front of the house.
Sue said she was struck by Mike's
"It's so refreshing here,"
she remembers him saying.
"And that," she said
Friday, "that was pretty much it."
As a child, Mike's bedroom had
to be wallpapered with posters of his hockey heroes. Detroit's Steve
Yzerman was his favorite. His father recalled a 5-year-old Mike declaring
he was going to play in the NHL. His father remembers laughing because
the family had the "5-foot-9, 5-10 disease." Mike insisted
he was going play in the NHL. His father shared the dream, too.
Stephen Jefferson wanted to get
his son in the best league available, which was in Toronto. Mike and
his best buddy, Sheldon Keefe, were considered a talented duo. When
Mike was 11, he joined a team coached by Frost. The two have been with
Frost, either on a team coached by him or represented by him, ever since.
Both, and Sheldon's younger brother,
Adam, are now estranged from
In 1993-94, Frost coached the
Brampton team, and after the season the Ontario Hockey Association was
poised to suspend or disband the team. There were two issues the league
had with Frost and the team, said Brent Ladds, the president of OHA
since 1981. First, the "undisciplined play of his kids" and,
second, an allegation of a hazing party. They invited Frost to a hearing.
He did not show.
While not suspended, Frost is
"excluded" from the league until he addresses those allegations,
Ladds said. Frost was reportedly suspended from the Metropolitan Toronto
Hockey League (now known as the Greater Toronto Hockey League) in 1996.
Those instances dot Frost's past.
But it's the quotes from people familiar with Frost and his boys that
are more alarming. Many people contacted for this story declined to
comment, from Frost's in-laws to scouts to former coaches or managers.
Just as many did not return messages. Several referred to quotes they
or others had given to a Toronto Sun columnist for a 1999 article about
Frost and his boys.
In that article, Frost was said to have a "cultlike attraction."
Others called him controlling, manipulative.
Edena Phillips, in whose Deseronto,
Ontario, house Mike Jefferson was billeted while with the Quinte Hawks,
a Tier 2 junior team, said Mike was polite, quiet. He did not like being
called "Mikey" and shrugged away from hugs. He was 16. He
would often leave the house to walk the two blocks to the nearby Bayview
Inn, where Frost and some other boys stayed.
"He was like a lemming,"
Phillips said. "I don't know how else to put it. He seemed troubled.
Like he wasn't happy. Hockey was everything to Mike. ... His parents
didn't seem to have any say in his life whatsoever. That's not normal,
in my eyes. It was all David Frost. One time I tried to get (Mike) to
sit down and talk to me. He said he had to go, he had to go.
"I said, 'If I mend your
jock strap, I mend your jeans, you're going to have to listen to me,'"
Phillips said. "I told him, 'You're going to be a young man, soon.
You have to learn to think for yourself. You have to learn to make your
"I worried for him. And then
this (the arrest), and my heart just broke for him."
Many people had told media outlets
last week that they were unnerved by Frost's role over - some say "spell"
over - the boys. Frost makes no apologies. Frost referred a reporter
Saturday to a quote in the Sun article in which he said he heard about
how he was "controlling these kids." And that if that meant
they "got to school, they maintain (their grades), they work hard
in games, they don't stay out at night, they never break curfew - if
that means too much influence, then I'm guilty."
Frost said it is "well documented"
how Stephen Jefferson neglected and abused Mike, and how Jefferson drank
too much. When contacted, a spokesman for Peel Regional Police said
they could not confirm if they had any complaints involving Jefferson
because no charges were filed. No police action was taken, the spokesman
said, and there is no ongoing investigation.
Police said they could not look
up criminal records on individuals. Mike told Blues teammates stories
of neglect, but never of abuse, several have said. Family members and
friends of the Jeffersons said they did not know of any instances of
Stephen Jefferson has denied the
abuse charges. He said he sometimes drank too much. Allegations persist,
even followed the Jeffersons as their younger son climbed hockey ranks.
Two scouts contacted said they had heard stories, but, one said, "It
only seems like David is the one telling them."
Danton declined to go into details
about his upbringing or what led to changing his name in interviews
earlier this season.
"What's the point?"
Mike Jefferson was drafted by
the New Jersey Devils in the 2000 Entry Draft. The Jeffersons did not
attend, and Stephen Jefferson said he found out from his brother that
Mike had been drafted 135th overall. It had been awhile since he had
had a substantial talk with his son. It was hard going to his junior
games - as he bounced around - because, as Sue Jefferson said, "What's
the point? You weren't going to see him anyway."
They couldn't congratulate him
on being drafted.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Sue wanted
desperately to get in touch with Mike, whom she figured was in the New
York area. She just wanted to know he was OK. She had no way to check,
she said. It wasn't until Sept. 20 - the day after the first game was
played in the New York area after the terrorist attacks - when a photo
of the Devils and New York Rangers lined up for the national anthem
ran in a Canadian paper. There, next to Eric Lindros, was Mike Jefferson.
She clipped and saved the photo,
because "he's safe," she said.
Uncle made contact
Danton changed in his name in
the summer of 2002 after what he said was a series of events with his
family. Frost says it relates to the neglect and abuse. It also further
distanced himself from his family, all of his family. He does not speak
regularly to grandparents, cousins, anyone but his uncle, Jeff. He's
missed funerals - including that of his grandfather - in recent years.
About a year and half ago, Jeff
Jefferson began talking with Mike through e-mail and by phone, but always
with Frost listening in, Jeff Jefferson said. It was through these conversations
that the uncle was told Mike was engaged. Frost said Saturday that Danton
and the woman have since parted.
Jeff Jefferson, his wife and two
teenage boys drove to St. Louis this season to catch a couple of Blues
games over the New Year's holiday. They told Mike they were coming;
he even left them tickets for one game. They were in town for a week.
They did not talk to Mike once.
"I wanted to have a relationship
with Mike," Jeff Jefferson said, "I wanted to hold on to that."
The last time they spoke was on
March 6, Jeff Jefferson said. He has spoken to Frost several times,
including the night of the arrest. Several members of the family, including
Stephen and Jeff Jefferson, have been in touch with the FBI, who filed
the original criminal complaint against Danton.
Danton was arrested in San Jose,
Calif., on Friday morning, the day after the Blues' season ended in
Game 5 against the San Jose Sharks. It was the culmination of a swift
An FBI report states that an argument
between Danton and an "acquaintance," whom the FBI won't identify
by name, happened April 14. That night, in Game 4, Danton scored his
first postseason goal. His brother and father were watching. Even his
mother, who said she cannot watch too much without being too emotional,
saw the goal.
She said her "heart lifted
when I heard the cheers for Mike."
It was everything they had wanted,
everything Mike had wanted. He was in the NHL. Scoring a goal. He had
made it. And then it all came undone. And Frost is an undetermined part
Tom Jefferson would just like
to talk to his brother.
Asked if it was pursuing success
in hockey that led to this, Stephen Jefferson said:
"I blame myself. Because
I closed my eyes just for the dream of the game. . . . In all my heart,
if I had known what was going to happen, I never would have put either
of my own boys in the sport. I sold my soul to the devil - just with
the belief that he would away from Dave and realize Dave is not his
"We are his family."
Back to Top
Mike Danton's fall
By GLORIA GALLOWAY, GRAEME SMITH
and PETER CHENEY
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
The Bayview Inn is a bland brick building on the outskirts of Deseronto,
a tiny town bordering Mohawk territory near the north shore of Lake
Ontario. It's the kind of place where fishing buddies feel comfortable
parking their gear, and out-of-town hockey teams like to roost when
invited to tournaments at the arena around the corner.
Seven years ago, one of the rooms at the hotel was a meeting place for
a few select members of the Quinte Hawks, a Tier 2 junior team on which
Mike Danton was a rough-and-tumble player whose main job was to protect
the top goal scorers. The role would eventually land him a job with
the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League.
Mr. Danton, who was Mike Jefferson in those days, was one of the regulars
at the hotel. On the nights the team wasn't playing, he would eat his
dinner at the home of Elena Phillips, the motherly woman with whom he
boarded, then head over to the hotel.
The folks who billeted the young Hawks players say the team was the
most exciting thing that had happened to the town in years. But they
had serious concerns about what was going on in that hotel room. There
were girls, they said. And the players, although generally good students,
would sometimes skip school to spend the day there.
Mike, who was 16 at the time, would never stay out late, Ms. Phillips
said. But she worried about how he was spending his evenings.
"One night, he came back and his face was all red and he had welts,"
she recounted this week as she sat at her comfortable kitchen table.
"I came up the stairs and I said 'What's the matter Mike?' and
he said nothing, and then he just went into his room and closed the
Today, Mike Danton is behind the closed door of a California jail cell.
Earlier this week, U.S. district attorney Ronald Tenpas announced that
Mr. Danton and his friend Katie Wolfmeyer had been formally indicted
on charges of arranging a murder, an offence punishable by as much as
10 years in prison.
Mr. Danton's story has emerged as a film noir counterpoint to the gossamer
fantasy of the NHL playoffs. With allegations of promiscuity, drugs
and attempted murder for hire, Mr. Danton's case is unique, yet it highlights
what some see as systemic problems with the modern game of hockey.
"There's something seriously wrong with the way that we approach
the sport," said Ed Arnold, author of the book Whose Puck Is It,
"A lot of people seem to have forgotten that it's just a game.
A huge amount of pressure is placed on extremely young kids. And the
money is obscene."
The criminal complaint filed in the Illinois court has led to widespread
speculation about Mr. Danton's troubled relationship with his former
coach and agent David Frost. In the document, FBI Special Agent John
Jimenez says Mr. Danton became concerned during an argument last week
that a male acquaintance was going to tell the management of the St.
Louis Blues about his dissolute lifestyle, which involved drug use and
Although the male acquaintance is not named in the affidavit, police
sources in St. Louis say it is Mr. Frost. According to the affidavit,
Mr. Danton "broke down and sobbed. ..... Danton explained that
he felt backed into a corner and also felt that the acquaintance was
going to leave him. Danton did not want to allow the acquaintance to
leave him, therefore decided to have him killed."
The tale of Mike Danton begins in Brampton, Ont., back in the days when
Mr. Frost coached him and a group of talented 11-year-olds on a triple-A
team that was part of the giant Metro Toronto Hockey League.
Even then, observers say, Mr. Frost was demanding, controlling and manipulative,
particularly when it came to his favourite players. Mike Jefferson was
one of his favourites.
It wasn't until 2002 that Mike Jefferson changed his name to Danton
- reportedly after a boy he met in hockey camp - swearing that he would
never play in the big leagues with the name Jefferson on his back. Steve
Jefferson, Mr. Danton's estranged father, believes he lost his son when
he was 15.
Back then, the newly founded Quinte Hawks needed good players, and co-owner
Marty Abrams, now coach of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, along with
his brother Kevin Abrams, then the Hawks general manager, wanted a winning
They negotiated with Mr. Frost to bring Mike, Sheldon Keefe, Shawn Cation,
Larry Barron and Darryl Tiveron from Brampton. Mr. Frost, who had recently
been suspended from the MTHL for helping to falsify documents that would
release his players, came along in the bargain, and once they were in
Deseronto, Ryan Barnes joined the other five as one of his special players.
Although his title was assistant, it was quickly clear that Mr. Frost,
and not coach Greg Royce, controlled the team.
The people here say Mr. Jefferson was a regular at the arena, even though
his home is a good three hours drive away. But he was allowed no contact
with his son before or after the games.
Mr. Jefferson said that edict was handed down by Mr. Frost. If he tried
to talk to his son in the parking lot outside the rink, "Mr. Frost
would tell Mike, 'keep your head down, just go straight to the bus.'"
Despite the wall erected around his son, Mr. Jefferson was a big supporter
of the coach's methods. He told one reporter that David Frost was the
best thing that had ever happened to Mike.
He doesn't think that way today.
"He's a monster," Mr. Jefferson said of Mr. Frost. "He
stole Michael from us and now he's taken Michael's mind from him. Since
Michael was 15 years old, Michael has never said a word that came out
of his own mind. He's just a tape recording. It was his words and Dave's
Mr. Frost did not return phone calls for this story. But his supporters
have said previously that Mike was rescued from a bad situation at home
and turned into a player of professional calibre.
In a 1999 interview with the Toronto Sun, Mr. Frost defended his approach.
"I've heard it said I'm controlling these kids," he told columnist
Steve Simmons. "But I won't apologize for it. If having too much
influence means my players go to school, they maintain 75-plus averages,
they work hard in games, they don't stay out at night, they never break
curfew - if that means too much influence, then I'm guilty."
By all accounts, Mr. Frost was an excellent technical coach who produced
winning teams. But his approach was jarring.
Annalee Fuller was the wife of the team trainer and president of the
fan club, and also billeted players. "None of us liked the way
Frosty dealt with things. None of us particularly liked his way. He
was gruff. He would be rude. He was a nasty, nasty man," she said.
"He yelled at them. He'd come up behind them, he'd get his finger
in their face, he'd scream at them. A couple of times he go up and smack
some of them on the back of the helmet."
Even stranger, Ms. Fuller said, was the control he exercised over the
boys who were his pet players.
"Whenever there was something going on, they weren't allowed to
go unless he was there," she said. "They had to be under his
watchful eye at all times. He had to know where they were, what they
were wearing, what they ate."
Other families who billeted the five Hawks say the same thing.
Shawn Cation lived with Daryl and Penny Smart. "If you were eating
dinner and Frosty wanted you now, it was out the door," Ms. Smart
There were three Hawks who boarded with the Smarts but Shawn wasn't
like the others. "He wasn't really allowed to really get to become
part of the family and the group," she said. "It wasn't as
if he wasn't with others of his team."
Ms. Phillips found the same to be true of Mike Jefferson.
"Mike was totally controlled by Frost," she said. "It
amazed me. It frightened me and shocked me. I talked with him saying
he had to learn to think for himself and to make his own decisions.
It shouldn't be up to another man to rule his life. His parents should
have more say in his upbringing than what they had. I'd never seen anything
quite like it before."
Ms. Phillips said the boys were not allowed to socialize with other
people. She returned home one weekend to find Mike, Mr. Frost and the
other boys barbecuing burgers on the deck. She urged them to stay and
enjoy themselves, saying she would go about her business elsewhere in
"And they all started getting their hamburgers and wrapping them
up. Dave Frost just looked at me, he never said a word. The boys never
said a word. And I said 'Mike, are you staying?' and he just said 'No.'
It was the strangest thing."
Even then, she was concerned about the distance that was being put between
Mike Jefferson and his parents. There was very little communication,
Ms. Phillips said, but it was obvious that Mike loved his dad. One night,
when Steve Jefferson set out in a terrible blizzard for Deseronto to
watch his son play, Mike "phoned and phoned and phoned until he
found out his dad was okay," she said.
In the end, Mr. Frost did not last a full season behind the Hawks bench.
With a crowd of 1,000 looking on during a game, he punched player Darryl
Tiveron with a blow that left the boy bleeding.
He was charged with assault and later pleaded guilty but claimed the
incident never happened. Darryl, who in later years went to work for
Mr. Frost at his Elite Hockey School, also denied the assault occurred.
But many people, including two off-duty police officers, said they saw
"We all yelled and jeered at him. I was flabbergasted," Ms.
Phillips said. "He belted him one."
Ms. Fuller, who was fed up with what she had seen, was among those who
wanted Mr. Frost to be charged. "We were actually chastised by
some of the other players' parents for sticking our noses in something
that was none of our business," she said.
Penny Smart agrees. The parents of some players were willing to ignore
warnings from others if it meant their son had a shot at the top echelons
of hockey, she said. "I think it had a lot to do with 'I can get
your boys to succeed, I can get your boys to the NHL.' And I think that's
too bad because the boys suffer in the end."
Even though Mr. Frost was no longer coaching, he remained in Deseronto
for the rest of the season, using hand signals to instruct his players
from the stands.//
The youths were split up during the 1997-98 season and Mike Jefferson
went to play with the Sarnia Sting in the Ontario Hockey League. Mr.
Frost went with him, again coaching him with his hands from the sidelines.
Sarnia owner Rob Ciccarelli has said he didn't want to let Mike go,
but the situation eventually became intolerable and, before the year
was out, he traded him to the St. Michael's Majors.
The next year, Mike was reunited with Mr. Frost's other favourites -
Shawn Cation, Sheldon Keefe and Ryan Barnes - who all ended up with
the Majors. Again, they kept to themselves, following a regime laid
out by Mr. Frost, who was still guiding them from the stands.
By all accounts, they were good students. But Mr. Frost told them they
didn't have to go to school on game days. That didn't sit well with
the Majors and they were traded, as a group, to the Barrie Colts.
Hockey officials do not want to talk about the situation on the record.
But a man associated with the Colts said the influence that Mr. Frost
exercised over the four was astounding. Again they were isolated from
the rest of their teammates. And again he used hand signals to coach
from the stands.
In the summer of 2002, Mr. Frost received his certification to represent
NHL players as their agent, a job that more often goes to accountants
or lawyers. His clients included Sheldon Keefe and Mike Jefferson, who
by that time had changed his last name to Danton.
Mr. Danton landed a contract with the New Jersey Devils and was sent
to their farm team in Albany, N.Y., but failed to show up. He said he
had suffered a stomach injury during a collision with Eric Lindros of
the New York Rangers and had gone to California to get a second medical
This season, Mr. Danton landed in St. Louis, where he was an enforcer
on the fourth line. He had seven goals, 12 points and 141 penalty minutes.
But some believed he was turning his professional life around.
He lived in a townhouse-style apartment complex in Brentwood, a suburb
of St. Louis, where $1,545 a month buys a spacious, upscale unit with
high ceilings and large windows. It's a new development, still partly
under construction, with mounds of dirt in the front yard and unfinished
buildings still missing their stucco exteriors.
He also developed a relationship with Ms. Wolfmeyer, the blond 19-year-old
who allegedly helped Mr. Danton arrange a killing. She was an honours
student in the nursing program at a college near her home where she
was on an athletic scholarship, and a regular fixture at her church
youth group. She also seems to have had a steady boyfriend.
"It's so puzzling," said her uncle, John Wolfmeyer. "She's
never had a parking ticket, never had a problem at home, never anything
remotely major about her being in trouble."
The root of the trouble, author Ed Arnold mentioned near top said, is
a "pot of gold" syndrome: the huge NHL salaries that have
led to the recruitment of potential stars at ever-younger ages.
"It's all about a future in hockey, instead of the game itself,"
he said. "Now you see agents talking to 11-year-old boys, and the
parents think it's great. It's not great. The parents should be kicking
the agents out of the rink."
The pressure to succeed can easily lead to the kind of abuses that have
been highlighted in the Danton case, Mr. Arnold said.
"There are parents who would rather see their son play a single
game in the NHL than have him become a doctor. To me, that's very warped.
In the 1950s and 1960s, no one thought like that. They kept the game
in perspective. Now, the perspective has been lost. All that matters
is making it to the NHL and getting rich."
Mr. Arnold notes that there is no oversight of agents in minor hockey.
"If you ask me, there should be age limits. You see agents at peewee
games. These are 12-year-old kids. And the worst part is, the parents
are thrilled. They all say, 'Wow, an agent is interested in my kid!'
There's nothing there to protect these kids. It all comes down to the
parents. Unfortunately, the parents are now part of the problem."
The criminal complaint filed against Mr. Danton alleges that a man,
who subsequently turned FBI informant, met Ms. Wolfmeyer with her friends
on April 14. The informant said Mr. Danton called her phone to say somebody
was coming from Canada to kill him over a financial debt, and requested
that she hire a hit man to kill the murderous Canadian. Ms. Wolfmeyer
replied that she might know somebody willing to take the job, and asked
The informant didn't take her seriously, the complaint says, so she
gave her cellphone to the would-be hit man and he spoke with Mr. Danton
Just after midnight, the complaint says, Mr. Danton called the informant
again to arrange the details in a call that the informant secretly recorded.
They argued about some of the fine points of faking a burglary, and
Mr. Danton described where he hid his cash in the apartment. The informant
suggested that the killing might be more discreet, somewhere other than
Mr. Danton's home, but the player insisted that he wanted proof of the
man's death. The complaint quotes Mr. Danton saying, "I'll know
it's taken care of because when I come back, obviously I'll see him
The complaint also quotes Mr. Danton urging the informant to do the
killing immediately: "The only way that I'm going to be able to
sleep tonight is knowing that the guy trying to kill me is done himself,"
adding, "I'm pretty much begging ..... I wouldn't resort to this
if it wasn't a matter of life or death."
The informant hung up the phone and immediately called police.
Mr. Danton's lawyer said yesterday his client would plead not guilty.
Less than 48 hours before he allegedly tried to hire a hit man, Mike
Danton stood nervously on the ice at the Savvis Center in downtown St.
Louis and gave a live interview to a Fox television reporter. It was
the evening of April 12, and the St. Louis Blues were preparing to battle
the San Jose Sharks in Game 3 of a playoff series they would eventually
Mr. Danton wasn't scheduled to go on-air but he'd been pacing around
outside the dressing room and the reporter snagged him for some comments.
Knowing that the husky brawler often spent time in the penalty box,
the reporter, Joel Goldberg, asked how he would avoid giving his opponents
the power play.
"There's no problem with playing hard, obviously, but there's a
fine line," Mr. Danton said. "You're going to take punches
in the head and you just got to skate away because this is the time
of year when power plays for the opposing team can come in huge for
It was ordinary jock talk, but Mr. Danton's demeanour seemed unusual.
His eyes moved constantly as he stood in front of the camera in his
grey T-shirt and stretchy bike shorts, bouncing back and forth on his
short, powerful legs. Always jittery before games, he seemed especially
tense that night.
Mr. Goldberg noticed the player's unease.
"That's the story from down here," he said, signing off. "This
guy is bouncing up and down, he's ready to hit somebody so I'm actually
going to get out of his way."
In Deseronto, the image of a troubled Mike Danton continues to echo
through the town. Some say they saw bad things coming from his experiences
in junior hockey, but nobody would have predicted charges like those
he now faces.
"I just got this awful feeling even back then something was very,
very wrong," Ms. Fuller said. "A lot of us felt that way."
Courtesy Globe and Mail.
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Thursday, April 29, 2004
Alleged accomplice enters not guilty plea
ST. LOUIS -- A woman pleaded not
guilty Thursday to charges she was an accomplice in a murder-for-hire
plot with St. Louis Blues forward Mike Danton.
Katie Wolfmeyer entered the plea in federal court in East St. Louis,
Ill. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for July 1, and her trial was
set for July 13.
Danton and Wolfmeyer were indicted April 22 by a federal grand jury
on charges of conspiring to arrange a murder for hire and using a telephone
across state lines in an attempt to do so.
Danton remains jailed in California, where he was arrested April 16,
hours after the San Jose Sharks eliminated the Blues from the NHL playoffs.
His attorney has said Danton also will plead innocent.
Attorney Bob Haar said he doesn't know when Danton will be returned
to the St. Louis area. Partly for security reasons, the U.S. Marshal's
service does not disclose when a suspect will be moved.
Wolfmeyer, 19, appeared shaken during her arraignment. She gave only
yes-or-no answers to questions from a magistrate. She is free on $100,000
bond and in custody of her parents.
Wolfmeyer's lawyer told reporters his client has lost two jobs and a
position as a lacrosse coach because of media coverage.
"I urge you to tone it down and let the kid get on with her life,"
lawyer Donald Groshong said.
Federal authorities said Danton, with Wolfmeyer's help, tried to hire
a hit man for $10,000 to murder an unidentified acquaintance at Danton's
suburban St. Louis apartment. Federal authorities said the men argued
April 13 over Danton's "promiscuity and use of alcohol." Danton
allegedly feared the acquaintance would talk to Blues management, potentially
damaging Danton's career.
Wolfmeyer was accused of contacting the would-be hit man, who alerted
Danton came to the Blues in a June trade from New Jersey, where he had
been twice suspended for disciplinary reasons.
Back to Top
Wolfmeyer arraigned in murder
Published: Thursday, Apr. 29 2004
A woman accused as an accomplice
in an alleged murder-for-hire plot with St. Louis Blues forward Mike
Danton pleaded innocent Thursday.
Katie Wolfmeyer, 19, entered the
plea in federal court in East St. Louis,
Ill. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for July 1, and her trial was
Danton and Wolfmeyer, of Florissant,
were indicted April 22 by a federal
grand jury on charges of conspiring to arrange a murder for hire and
using a telephone across state lines to arrange it.
Wolfmeyer appeared shaken and
emotional during her arraignment. She spoke only in one or two word
answers to questions from U.S. Magistrate Clifford
Proud. She is free to the custody of her parents on $100,000 bond.
Donald Groshong, Wolfmeyer's lawyer,
said Wolfmeyer has lost two jobs and a position as a lacrosse coach
due to media coverage of her arrest.
"I urge you to tone it down
and let the kid get on with her life," Groshong told reporters.
Meanwhile, Danton remains jailed
in California, where he was arrested April 16, hours after the San Jose
Sharks beat the Blues to eliminate them from the NHL playoffs. His attorney
has said Danton also will plead innocent.
Attorney Bob Haar said he still
doesn't know when Danton will be returned to the St. Louis area. Partly
for security reasons, the U.S. Marshal's service does not disclose when
a suspect will be moved.
Federal authorities said that
Danton, with Wolfmeyer's help, tried to hire a hit man for $10,000 to
murder an unidentified acquaintance at Danton's suburban St. Louis apartment.
Federal authorities said the men argued April 13 over Danton's "promiscuity
and use of alcohol." Danton allegedly feared the acquaintance would
talk to Blues management, potentially damaging Danton's career.
Wolfmeyer was accused of passing
a phone call from Danton to the would-be hit man, who pretended to go
along with the plan, but actually went to Columbia, Ill., police; they
in turn alerted the FBI.
Ronald Tenpas, the U.S. Attorney
for Illinois' southern district, has asserted that Wolfmeyer had ample
time to reconsider her choice to help in the plot, but did not. She
not only found someone who said he'd do the killing, she led the man
to Danton's apartment building, Tenpas said.
Authorities have refused to identify
the person Danton allegedly wanted dead. Media reports, citing anonymous
sources, maintained the target was \ Danton's agent, Dave Frost. Frost
has said repeatedly he was not the target.
Danton came to the Blues in a
June trade from the New Jersey Devils, where he had been twice suspended
for disciplinary reasons. This past season he had seven goals, 12 points
and 141 penalty minutes, which tied him for most on the team.
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