By BETSY TAYLOR, AP SPORTS
ST. LOUIS (April 17) -- St. Louis Blues forward Mike Danton was charged Friday in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme, the FBI said.
Danton was arrested at the airport in San Jose, Calif., after the Blues were knocked out of the NHL playoffs in a loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Illinois, Danton and a woman tried to hire someone to kill an acquaintance of the hockey player.
Danton, 23, and the woman, Katie Wolfmeyer, 19, face federal charges of conspiring and using a telephone across state lines to set up a murder. It could not be determined where they were being held Friday night.
Blues spokesman Frank Buonomo declined to comment Friday, saying in a statement, "The matter is in the hands of law enforcement officials and the judicial system."
The Blues could not immediately put the Associated Press in touch with an agent or lawyer for Danton.
According to the criminal complaint, Danton told Wolfmeyer that a hitman from Canada was coming to kill him and asked her if she knew someone who would kill the person for $10,000.
She passed his call to another man, described as a "cooperating witness," who spoke with Danton beginning Wednesday.
The FBI said Danton hatched a plot where the man could kill the "hitman" at Danton's apartment and make it look like two burglars had broken in, one being killed and the other making off with $3,000 Danton had in a safe.
The complaint alleges that Danton actually was trying to kill a male acquaintance whom he had fought with Tuesday over Danton's "promiscuity and use of alcohol." The complaint said Danton feared the acquaintance, who is not named, would talk to St. Louis Blues management and ruin Danton's career.
In a telephone call recorded by authorities, the acquaintance asked why Danton wanted to kill him. According to the complaint, Danton broke down and sobbed, and explained that he ordered the killing because he "felt the acquaintance was going to leave him."
Authorities said Friday they have no reason to believe that the acquaintance or anyone else had been planning to kill Danton. "We couldn't confirm that to be accurate," said Marshall Stone, supervisory FBI special agent in Springfield, Ill.
Danton, formerly known as Mike Jefferson, was suspended twice by the New Jersey Devils, who eventually traded him to St. Louis last June. He had seven goals, 12 points and 141 penalty minutes in 68 games this season with the Blues.
04-17-04 12:25 EDT