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 June and July, 2004 articles regarding the case.
More time is given for Danton's
Before the extension, today was the deadline for Danton to claim a mental defect or disease in the murder-for-hire case.
Danton's lawyers now have until June 18 to decide. Danton's St. Louis-based attorney Robert Haar could not be reached for comment on the extension Thursday. Danton, who has remained jailed since mid-April, has been meeting with psychologists in extended visits approved by a judge.
In preparation for the potential cost of a trial, Danton's financial advisor, Robert Barth of Southern California, contacted most of Danton's Blues teammates a couple weeks ago to attempt to raise money for Danton's defense. Players were contacted by Barth via phone, fax and e-mail. Players were told Danton needed financial assistance. They were asked to send money to Las Vegas attorney David Chesnoff.
Several players who were contacted were concerned about the nature of the cold calls - unexpected from an unknown person asking for money to be sent to lawyer not part of Danton's defense. Having just had a teammate go through several years of dealing with an identity thief, players are leery of such requests.
"It came out of the blue - asking for money," one player said.
The NHL Players Association was alerted, as were individual agents.
"As far as Mike, this is a really unusual situation," Barth said. Barth would not say whether Danton is struggling financially under the weight of law fees. "His close friends, those closest to him, have already said they will not let money stand in the way of his defense. ... This was an attempt of adding (an attorney), not replacing."
The money was to be put in a trust, Chesnoff said. It would be used to pay Chesnoff if he were added to the defense or "it would be sent to Mr. Haar or returned to who sent it," Chesnoff said. Chesnoff, who is part of the Martha Stewart defense team, had been contacted by Danton's non-legal representatives about possibly being involved in the case.
Haar said there are no current plans to have Chesnoff involved. "If he gets involved at a future time that is up to Mike," Haar said Tuesday.
Chesnoff said Danton is "in great hands with Mr. Haar."
Danton was transferred by U.S. Marshals to the infirmary at the St. Clair County Jail, where he will receive closer scrutiny than at the Clinton County Jail in Carlyle, authorities said. Haar has said he is concerned about Danton's mental health. In conversations recorded by the FBI before Danton's arrest, Danton hints, as Haar has said, that he may be a danger to himself.
Reporter Michael Shaw
Reporter Derrick Goold
DANTON'S AGENT DENIES SEEKING
Controversial hockey agent David Frost has asked members of the St. Louis Blues to put up money to hire another lawyer to help defend teammate Mike Danton, according to a report in The Globe and Mail.
The newspaper reports Frost sent faxes and left telephone messages with several players soliciting money, but Frost has denied that he has anything to do with asking any players for money.
Frost contacted TSN Thursday morning, saying that it is Danton and his financial advisor, Robert Barth, that have been soliciting the Blues players. Frost continued by say that it's been Danton and Barth, and not him, that have been contacting high-profile Las Vegas attorney David Chesnoff to join the defence team. St. Louis attorney Bob Haar is currently representing Danton.
Sources tell the Globe that none of the players contacted have donated money so far.
Frost, members of his family and at least one of his NHL clients have been ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Reagan to not have any contact with Danton since May 15.
Danton and a 19-year-old female accomplice face up to 10 years in jail if convicted on the conspiracy charges. He is scheduled to go to trail on July 20.
"We think Katie was a victim," Art Margulis told reporters after an hourlong hearing in federal court, where Katie Wolfmeyer is charged with Danton with arranging the would-be April slaying of Danton's agent, David Frost.
Danton, 23, and 19-year-old Wolfmeyer face identical murder-for-hire conspiracy charges, with Wolfmeyer accused to trying to hire a would-be killer. That man turned out to be an informant who instead went to authorities.
Frost was unharmed and has maintained he was not the intended target.
Danton and Wolfmeyer, from the St. Louis suburb of Florissant, have pleaded innocent, and both are to be tried here in September.
In what may be a central theme during Wolfmeyer's trial, Margulis told reporters his client was "just a young girl taken by an athlete, a hockey star."
"I don't think there was any question she was taken advantage of; I think that's clear," Margulis said. "She was naive. There's no question she was manipulated."
Wolfmeyer -- free on $100,000 bond -- tearfully told reporters "I'm just going on with my life right now, trying to get through school" and working.
"I'm doing fine," she said, crying before Margulis cast her as "just an innocent go-along, an innocent bystander" in a case that could land her years in federal prison if convicted.
During the hearing, in which Wolfmeyer often sobbed at the defense table, Margulis pressed U.S. District Judge William Stiehl to bar as potential evidence certain statements Wolfmeyer allegedly made to the FBI in the hours after her April arrest.
Margulis also asked Stiehl to force federal prosecutors to publicly identify witnesses supposedly involved with Danton in two earlier possible murder-for-hire bids targeting Frost.
Wolfmeyer's attorneys say that though neither of those alleged cases involved Wolfmeyer, such information could be mitigating "and directly impacts her level of culpability" in the charges she faces.
Margulis also claimed that federal investigators illegally seized and recorded messages left on her cellular telephone, including one left by Danton when he called apparently unaware she was being questioned then by FBI agent Emerson Buie shortly after her arrest, Buie testified.
Stiehl said he would rule on those matters later.
Danton has been jailed since his arrest April 16 in San Jose, Calif., a day after the San Jose Sharks eliminated the Blues from the playoffs.
During Monday's hearing, three FBI agents testified that Wolfmeyer, in the hours after her arrest on a shopping mall parking lot, spoke with the FBI voluntarily after being told repeatedly she had the constitutional right not to do so.
But Margulis said such written statements -- none in Wolfmeyer's own writing -- should be inadmissible at trial, arguing that such statements were coerced from a young woman who had gone as long as 28 hours without sleep when last interviewed by investigators.
Margulis also said that during her first 11 hours in custody, Wolfmeyer was only given a granola bar and water -- treatment the attorney called "excessive."
Stephen Clark, a federal prosecutor, countered that testimony shows that Wolfmeyer was told three times she had the right to remain silent and to legal representation but waived those warnings.
Danton's attorney, Robert Haar, attended Monday's hearing as an observer, making no statements.
We may never know exactly why Blues winger Mike Danton went off the deep end.
We may never know all that happened between him and his agent/guru David Frost, all the strange events that led Danton to conspire to murder him.
We suspect that it's a very strange and troubling story, a cautionary tale about a young man who left home at a young age, turned his life over to a youth hockey coach, disowned his family and then fell to pieces.
Folks viewing the Danton/Frost story from a safe distance hoped that a trial would produce some answers. We all wanted to see Danton take the stand and explain why he allowed Frost to micromanage his life.
We wanted to know why Danton became desperate to end his arrangement with Frost, so desperate that he saw murder as the only way out.
We wanted to see Danton put down his prepared statements, just once, and describe what exactly went haywire. We wanted to see why a young man would fall into such a pathetic state, even after his NHL career was just taking off.
People familiar with Danton, his family and his relationship with Frost insist there was quite a story to be told, one that would shed sympathetic light on his life . . . but now we may never really know what happened.
Danton decided to remain mum. In a sudden and startling decision, he admitted his guilt and returned to jail will his secrets safely intact.
By pleading guilty, Danton put himself in line for a long prison term. He faces a sentence of 87 months to 10 years, to be served in his native Canada.
By pleading guilty, Danton accepted that his promising hockey career was over and all his childhood dreams were dashed.
By pleading guilty, Danton allowed Frost, his intended target, to escape some much-needed scrutiny.
This was another curious turn in one of the most peculiar sports sagas of our lifetime.
Personally, I wanted to pity Danton. I wanted to believe that he was a good kid lured into a bad situation. I wanted to believe he was a needy, gullible, vulnerable kid that latched onto a manipulator.
I wanted to believe he developed deep psychological problems that explained his erratic behavior.
I wanted to believe he was a victim, not a criminal. As a parent of two teenagers, I shuddered at the news accounts and hoped for a happier ending. I wanted Danton to get help, not a long prison term.
But Danton went to the courthouse Friday and took the fall. He owned up to one of the most idiotic, implausible, ill-fated criminal plots of all time.
The stupidity of it all would make for an excellent comedy – except that the end result, a life needlessly wasted, is so tragic.
His attorney, Robert Haar, said Danton wanted to "put all this behind him."
With the plea, Danton will avoid a trial that likely would have cast even more public scrutiny on his controversial relationship with his agent and intended murder target David Frost as well as his estranged relationship with his family.
And the deal may give him an opportunity to serve most of his sentence in his native Canada.
While the plea may have surprised many observers, Danton had been considering a plea agreement for several weeks, Haar said.
The maximum prison sentence Danton faces at sentencing on Oct. 22 is 10 years, but Danton will likely serve between 87 and 108 months. Had he gone to trial, he could have faced more than twice the 10-year maximum.
The prosecutors' focus now shifts squarely to Danton's co-defendant, Katie Koester Wolfmeyer, 19, of Florissant. She is to go to trial in September on the same charge Danton pleaded to - conspiracy to commit interstate murder for hire.
In a telephone interview Friday afternoon, Wolfmeyer's attorney, Art Margulis, said, "We do not have negotiations going on," when asked whether Wolfmeyer also was considering a plea deal.
Danton, who smiled while talking with his attorneys before court convened Friday morning, spoke calmly and clearly throughout the hour-long hearing as he admitted to being the center of a murder plot, which was supposed to take place April 15 at Danton's Brentwood apartment.
Federal authorities two months ago had identified Danton's sports agent David Frost as the target. Danton's admission Friday stopped short of calling Frost the target, but it notes Frost was the apartment's only occupant.
Danton, 23, has been jailed since his arrest April 16 in San Jose, Calif., where the Blues' season had just ended.
By pleading guilty, Danton also has the opportunity to serve most of his prison term in Canada, if approved by U.S. Justice Department officials under an international prisoner transfer program. Haar said getting Danton into the Canadian system was attractive because of its reputation for rehabilitation and psychiatric services.
"These are tough decisions for anyone to make," Haar said of Danton's state of mind as he considered pleading guilty. "It was difficult. There is some satisfaction in knowing you've accepted responsibility. ... Like anyone, he has mixed feelings right now."
Asked whether Danton had hopes of ever playing hockey again, Haar said, "Mike loved hockey. ... We just don't know if that will ever be a possibility."
Danton became an unrestricted free agent in July after the Blues did not seek to renew his contract. Danton, a forward, played one season with the Blues.
Jim Woodcock, senior vice president of the Blues, said the team had little to add to Friday's developments. "The plea today speaks for itself," he said. "... It's in the hands of our legal system. We genuinely wish Mike well."
Unlike most criminal defendants who sign plea agreements, Danton will not be required to testify against his co-defendant, Wolfmeyer.
Danton did, however, identify Wolfmeyer's voice in a recorded conversation she had with the designated hit man, a police dispatcher who turned out to be working with authorities and wearing a wire. That identification was entered into the court record Friday when Danton signed a four-page "stipulation of facts," or a typewritten version of events prepared by prosecutors.
It describes how Danton called Wolfmeyer, who put him in touch with a friend, Justin "Levi" Jones of Waterloo. The payoff for Jones was to be $10,000, of which Danton had $3,000 in an unlocked safe in his apartment as a down payment. He wanted the murder to look like a botched burglary and told Jones someone had come from Canada to kill him. Jones was already working with federal agents by the time the plans were finalized.
Danton hung his head when Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Clark read those pages aloud in court, including a description of his calls to Wolfmeyer and the hit man trying to cover up the plot.
But when U.S. District Judge William D. Stiehl asked him to enter a plea, Danton answered, "Plead guilty," without hesitation.
Danton admitted guilt Friday despite efforts by his attorneys to bar crucial evidence from coming to light at trial, including recordings of his phone conversations between him and both Wolfmeyer and Jones. A hearing on that evidence had been planned for Monday.
Haar said Danton was fully aware of the evidence against him, and they had discussed the likelihood of efforts to get that evidence excluded from trial.
In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed to drop the other charge against Danton, of using a telephone with the intent that murder be committed.
While the case was progressing to trial, prosecutors had threatened to file other charges. Now they appear prepared to argue that he serve no more than 108 months in prison. He also faces a fine between $15,000 and $150,000.
"It's a fair deal," said Clark, the prosecutor. "I believe Mr. Danton thinks it's a fair deal as well."
Reached by phone Friday, Frost said he stood by his former statements that he was not the intended target of the plot. He said he couldn't comment, other than to support Danton.
"I'm very, very proud of Mike," he said. "I just think he has had to go through so much I just can't tell you. He's such a good kid. He really is."
Frost has described himself as a surrogate father, repeating Friday that Danton "is like a son to me." Since Danton was a teen and Frost was his hockey coach, they and a few other of Frost's former players have formed a tight-knit clique.
Danton and Frost's relationship has been described as unusually close, even by Danton's teammates. Frost has been called manipulative and controlling by critics.
Frost has said he became a shelter for Danton from a turbulent upbringing - an accusation Danton's family denies. Danton's family blames Frost for distancing and ultimately severing them from any ties with Danton.
Steve Jefferson, Danton's father, said Friday that his son's plea came as a surprise. "We're just worried for Mike's health," Jefferson said. "If he needs anything, we're still there for him - whatever he needs. We just want him to get all the help he needs."
The only remaining question in Danton's case is whether he obstructed justice when he called Wolfmeyer and Jones and told them to pretend he had never spoken with them about the plot.
Judge Stiehl will resolve that issue at sentencing - at the same time he would formally accept the plea agreement. If he rules Danton did not obstruct justice, Danton's lawyers estimate he could receive 87 months, or just more than seven years in prison. If he were to serve that sentence in the United States, under federal law, he would have to serve at least 85 percent of it before being eligible for release. It is unclear how much time off for good behavior he could receive in Canada.
Don Groshong, Wolfmeyer's other lawyer, was present at the hearing. He said he believes Danton's plea could help his client and hinted that there were recent "developments" in the case but declined to elaborate.
He said, "The government might do the honorable thing and dismiss the charges."
Wolfmeyer's attorneys have depicted Wolfmeyer, who has been a student at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley, as a victim in the case.
She and Danton first met in March at the skating rink at the St. Louis Mills shopping mall in Hazelwood, where the Blues practiced and where Wolfmeyer worked.
They dated a few times.
After a hearing Monday where Wolfmeyer's attorneys attempted to bar her statement to authorities, Margulis told reporters that his client was "just a young girl taken by an athlete, a hockey star."
Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.
Reporter Michael Shaw
Mike Danton's sentencing date
has been set for Oct. 22.
Before signing, he read the description of his crime.
Outlined as part of his plea were the events of April 14 and April 15 as he plotted an unsuccessful murder-for-hire scheme and reacted to its quick unraveling. It detailed his calls to co-defendant Katie Wolfmeyer and the hired gun, who turned out to be a police informant. It told how Danton offered $10,000 for the hit, how he feared someone was coming to kill him and how it was to be completed at his apartment. He suggested it should look like a "botched burglary."
After being told by his agent, Dave Frost, in a call prompted and taped by the FBI in the early hours of April 15 that the plan has been discovered, Danton admitted to it and said he knew he would have to serve time for his actions.
Compared to the publicized tales of an estranged family, accusations of neglect, an unusually and controversially close relationship with his agent and what prosecutors called the pro hockey player's failed third attempt to hire someone to kill that agent, this was bland stuff.
Hardly the climax expected by rubber-neckers.
The plea provided few new answers, save guilt.
"Ultimately, this was not about satisfying peoples' curiosity," said Danton's attorney, Robert Haar. "This was about salvaging as much of a young man's life as you can. Life is sometimes messy. People are complex. There aren't simple or satisfying explanations for everything."
After signing the plea, Danton stood before a judge and pleaded guilty Friday at federal court in East St. Louis to a charge of conspiring to commit murder for hire. With sentencing and the petition for a transfer to his native Canada yet to come, Danton's plea essentially ends what has been described as a soap opera - the blitz of information that exhumed his past, exposed his fractured relationship with his parents and probed his unwavering loyalty to Frost. Frost's history as a suspended hockey coach and polarizing personality was dissected. Salvos of accusations were traded between Frost and Danton's family, the Jeffersons.
All sides agreed that Danton, 23, needed counseling. There was nothing simple about it.
Least of all was the ubiquitous question: Why?
How did all that lead to the events Danton read through again Friday morning and agreed to as part of his plea? Or did they at all?
In the stipulation of facts attached to his plea, Danton does not identify the target of the hit. This apparently was on purpose. (Though the facts do specify that Frost was the only person in the apartment where the hit was to occur, even allegedly taking $20 from the $3,000 left in a safe for the hit man.) Not in any of the taped conversations played in court, nor in Wolfmeyer's early statements to the police is the target identified by name.
During one of 79 conversations Danton had with Frost during his first 12 days in jail, Frost attempts to employ a code to ask Danton if he was the target. Using "young Nat coach" as code for himself, Frost asked:
"God, you must have wanted that Nat guy gone, huh?"
Danton did not answer.
"Did you?" Frost asked.
Danton responded: "No."
Frost not being identified as the target is reduced to semantics in the plea. Its larger thrust is the possibility of Danton being transferred to Canada for his jail time. As part of the plea, the U.S. Attorney and FBI stated neither has objection to such a transfer. After sentencing - which is scheduled for Oct. 22 and could be moved up - Danton will apply to be moved to a Canadian prison. There is no guarantee, but with the approval of both governments Danton would be moved. This possibility is a priority for his representatives.
Danton probably will be sentenced to between 87 and 108 months. If he had gone to trial he would have faced more than twice the 10-year maximum. Prosecutors also had alluded to the possibility of additional charges in court - obstruction of justice and the two previous attempts to hire a hit man - that could have been added to his sentence.
If he is transferred to Canada, the local guidelines of release would apply. Parole and other release programs not available to Danton in the United States would be available to him in Canada. Under federal law, in U.S. prison, he would have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.
For consideration in sentencing, Haar said they intend to provide psychological and psychiatric information about Danton. The same information also will be submitted to the Department of Justice with the application for transfer.
While in jail awaiting trial because he was denied release, Danton met with three doctors for counseling. After an early hearing, Haar expressed concern for Danton's well-being. Haar said Saturday that the "counseling has helped in that regard" and that "Mike is doing OK."
Throughout his pretrial hearings, Danton was engaged in the process, reading and asking about motions. On one occasion, he pointed out a typo in a motion filed by his attorneys.
He also remained steadfastly uninterested in any communication with his parents. His mother, Sue, and brother, attended Danton's detention hearing. They publicly expressed their concern for Danton, their distrust of Frost and their interest in bridging the rift between them and Danton. The hearing was the first time his mother had seen him in 3 1/2 years.
Danton responded by calling media outlets and making a statement that did not discuss the case but denounced his family. It echoed the accusations of neglect that Frost had been saying and the family vehemently denying.
Recently, his mother sent a letter to Danton in jail.
It came back to the family's house stamped, "Return To Sender." They opened it. Inside the envelope was the letter she had written - torn to pieces.
"Mike hasn't changed how he feels (about his family)," said his father, Steve Jefferson. "He basically feels the same way he did when he went to jail. ... If Mike comes out and doesn't want to talk to us, what's the difference? He hasn't talked to us since he was 15. We just want to know he's all right."
Jefferson said the family will continue to find ways to support Danton, just as all parties involved begin to move beyond Friday's surprise plea. Wolfmeyer's trial is scheduled to begin in September. By court order, Frost has not been allowed to talk with Danton for weeks and that order is still binding until there is a motion to remove it. According to a report in The Ottawa Citizen, authorities in Canada are investigating Frost on charges of sexual exploitation. No charges have been filed. Frost said there is "nothing" to the investigation.
While Danton awaits sentencing, he will have his injured shoulder evaluated again. Because the injury occurred during the season, any surgery would be covered by the Blues. Hockey is on hold. There's the possibility that if he is transferred to Canada, Danton, as a felon, would be barred from returning to the United States, complicating an NHL career with the need for special work permits. For a young man consumed by hockey until his arrest, the focus, as Frost and Jefferson both said, is now on "getting Mike the help he needs."
Danton will continue to meet with counselors.
And there may never be a public discussion of the question still lingering: Why?
A trial would have explored the answer - and why he did it would have become Danton's defense. Prosecutors had a preponderance of evidence - especially the range of taped conversations, both the night of the failed plot and the 16 hours of calls from jail between Frost and Danton. They flexed those muscles in an early hearing. The evidence illustrated the "how."
But no why.
"Mike was calm," Haar said of the time Danton signed the plea. "In a situation like this, the feelings are mixed. You take some satisfaction that you accepted responsibly and start looking forward to the next step and what the future holds. On the other hand, there's some sadness to it."
Said Frost: "This brings closure to the incident per se. But I don't think it brings closure to Mike Danton."
Reporter Derrick Goold
April 13 - Danton scores his first career playoff goal in 4-3 loss to the Sharks at Savvis Center. That night, according to the criminal complaint written by the FBI, Frost and Danton have a disagreement.
April 14 - The Blues travel to San Jose for continuation of playoff series. Danton calls co-defendant Katie Wolfmeyer seeking a hit man, the complaint says. Wolfmeyer gets Danton in touch with Justin "Levi" Jones, a part-time dispatcher at the Columbia, Ill., Police Department. Jones later becomes the FBI's cooperating witness.
April 15 - Shortly after midnight, FBI records a conversation between Jones and Danton in which Danton describes how to make the hit look like a "botched" robbery. That night the Blues lose at San Jose, eliminating them from the playoffs. Danton plays 6 minutes, 10 seconds. Meanwhile, in St. Louis, Jones and Wolfmeyer meet and drive to Danton's apartment, where the FBI says they were to confront the target. Frost is at apartment.
April 16 - Wolfmeyer is arrested shortly after midnight in the Galleria parking lot. She is questioned by police, and messages left at the same time by Danton are taped from Wolfmeyer's voice mail. After speaking with police, Frost makes a call to Danton that also is recorded by FBI. Danton, having left the team hotel before Blues departed for their charter flight, is arrested at San Jose airport while in line to board a flight to Denver, the connection on his ticket back to St. Louis.
April 18 - Danton's father, Steve Jefferson, speaks publicly for the first time, saying his son "needs help." He hasn't spoken to his son in several years and describes a dwindling relationship since Danton met Frost, first as his coach. In 2002 Danton legally changed his name from Mike Jefferson to Mike Danton.
April 29 - Wolfmeyer pleads not guilty.
May 3 - Danton arrives in St. Louis after spending 17 days in a California jail.
May 4 - Danton pleads not guilty in his first appearance in a St. Louis-area court. His mother, brother and aunt attend hearing, seeing their estranged relative for the first time in 3 1/2 years.
May 7 - During the first detention hearing, prosecutors allege Danton tried twice previously to hire someone to kill Frost. It's the first time Frost is publicly named as the target of the alleged hit. The judge rules Danton should remain in jail, despite a shoulder injury and his lawyer's concern for his mental health. That night, without his attorney's knowledge, Danton calls three media outlets, including the Post-Dispatch, to read a prepared statement that thanks Frost and vilifies his parents.
May 14 - Judge rules Danton can no longer have contact with Frost. That order is later expanded to Frost's family and Danton's friend and Frost client Sheldon Keefe.
May 18 - Prosecutors file a response to a request for a rehearing on the bail decision. The response calls Danton "cowardly" and says he has not requested medical or psychiatric help.
May 21 - Tapes of Danton's jailhouse conversations with Frost are played in court to contend Danton's request to be released on bail. Prosecutors argue that the tapes, which included an attempt at speaking in rudimentary code, show Danton and Frost "have been conspiring to obstruct justice to conjure up a phony defense."
June 28 - Both defendants attend a hearing on Danton's attorney's motion to move the trial because of pretrial publicity. It is the first time Wolfmeyer and Danton have seen each other since their arrests; it is the first time Wolfmeyer's parents have seen Danton in person.
June 29 - The judge rules against motion to move trial.
June 30 - The Blues do not submit a qualifying offer to Danton, a restricted free agent who only had to be "qualified" at set salary to remain on the Blues. Thus, Danton becomes an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team.
July 12 - A hearing is held on Wolfmeyer's attorney's motion to suppress the statements she made to police the night of her arrest. In the statement she says: "It clicked that Mike wanted the guy dead."
July 16 - Danton pleads guilty of conspiracy to commit interstate murder for hire.
- Derrick Goold, Michael Shaw
Key players in the Danton murder-for-hire case
PLEADS GUILTY: Former St. Louis Blues player Mike Danton faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, but he will likely serve between 87 and 108 months.
THE MURDER TARGET: Court statements said agent David Frost was the only person at the apartment where the hit was to take place.
ACCUSED CO-CONSPIRATOR: Katie Koester Wolfmeyer, 19, seeking to help Danton, sought a hit man, the complaint says. Her trial is set for September.
Mike Danton will carry all of the secrets to prison now.
Why did Danton want to have his agent, David Frost, murdered? Still a mystery.
The peculiar Danton-Frost relationship seemingly caused a 23-year-old hockey player to snap and desperately, frantically conclude that murder was the only solution.
A mystery then, now and perhaps forever.
How does a young man come to leave his family, loath his family, and ultimately disown his family after forming an unusually close bond with Frost?
And the contradictions are puzzling. If the former Mike Jefferson hated his parents so much that he rid himself of the family surname, then why try to have Frost killed? If Frost was Danton's personal savior, as the player has intimated many times, Danton seems to have chosen the wrong target.
What was it that Danton said to the designated hit man who actually turned out to be a police informant? "I'm pretty much begging," Danton said. It makes no sense. Danton's screwball plot to kill Frost was a bad, bungling version of an episode of "The Sopranos."
Danton won't be addressing these questions on a witness stand. Unless Danton deprograms himself and allows the whole truth to spill out, he'll keep the mystery inside the jailhouse walls. And Frost surely will try to keep it that way.
Frost has been depicted as a manipulator, a master controller, and even a monster by his many critics in Canada's junior-hockey circuit, the Toronto media and Danton's estranged family.
That Svengali image was reinforced during the course of this legal process when a judge barred Frost from having contact with Danton after Frost arranged for Danton to make a pro-Frost statement from jail.
One quote in Saturday's Post-Dispatch jumped out at me: "I'm very, very proud of Mike," Frost told hockey reporter Derrick Goold.
Well, I suppose Frost should be proud.
He still has the upper hand.
Danton is going away to prison for as many as 10 years after pleading guilty of conspiring to commit murder for hire.
And Frost will continue to be certified and empowered as a player agent by the inept and irresponsible National Hockey League Players Association.
By volunteering for this extended detainment, Danton ensured that any twisted, sordid details of his relationship with Frost will stay out of the public record. That's good for Frost, but a setback for those who seek and deserve to know the truth.
The secrets will stay with Danton. Sealed away behind bars. Locked in by Danton's pathetic dependence on the curious Mr. Frost. Perhaps Danton's family eventually will be able to break through the resistance. But according to KMOX's Andy Strickland, Danton's mother recently received a disturbing letter from her son. Sue Jefferson has written loving notes of support to Danton since his arrest in April. Danton's response? He ripped the letters into tiny pieces and mailed the shreds to his mother.
Frost is free to continue insisting that he saved Danton from the Jeffersons. Frost can continue to call himself Danton's surrogate father. Frost can inexplicably continue to insist that he wasn't Danton's intended victim - even though federal authorities identified Frost as the target in court papers filed in recent months.
Oddly, Danton's formal admission did not cite Frost as the target. It's obvious that Danton insisted on such disingenuous, preposterous wording in another misguided effort to protect and please Frost.
In that regard, Danton is still hiding from the truth. But by pleading guilty, Danton actually confirmed what he and Frost are trying to deny: Danton wanted Frost eliminated. Danton was willing to risk his freedom and his hockey career to get it done.
Only Danton knows why, and he isn't saying. This mystery will remain unsolved, unless Danton comes clean. He may need to go to prison to find his freedom. How ironic.
Art Margulis, an attorney for Wolfmeyer, alerted U.S. District Judge William D. Stiehl at a brief hearing Tuesday that he wanted to subpoena Danton, who pleaded guilty last week to an interstate murder-for-hire conspiracy charge.
Danton can invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refuse to answer any questions when Wolfmeyer is tried in September on the same charge. Danton's plea agreement does not require him to testify against Wolfmeyer.
A source familiar with the case said it would be considered inappropriate for Wolfmeyer's lawyers to put Danton on the stand if Danton's attorney tells them he won't answer questions.
Wolfmeyer is accused of helping Danton find a potential hit man when she put him in contact with a friend who eventually alerted authorities to the murder plot. The target, according to the government, was Danton's sports agent, David Frost. He was not injured.
Margulis also indicated the defense would attempt to have recorded phone conversations between Frost and Danton played for the jury. The recordings were made when the hockey player was in jail.
In one of the tapes already revealed, Frost says to Danton: "Remember this: It's her (Wolfmeyer) word against yours. Do not get sucked in. Know this. ... She is going to do whatever she can to get out of this. The family's ripping you. She's ripping you. So (expletive) her. She's doing whatever she can to get off."
Jury selection for Wolfmeyer's trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 1 with the trial beginning Sept. 7.