FBI arrests Danton in San Jose

Updated: April 17, 2004, 3:47 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

ST. LOUIS -- A center for the St. Louis Blues was charged in San Jose, Calif., on Friday in an alleged plot to kill an acquaintance he feared could ruin his career, the FBI said.

Mike Danton, 23, was arrested at Norman Mineta International Airport around 8 a.m. -- hours after his team was knocked out of the NHL playoffs Thursday night by the San Jose Sharks.

 Mike Danton
Danton

According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Illinois, Danton told a female friend that a hitman from Canada was coming to kill him and asked the woman 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.

Danton 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.

A spokesman for the hockey team, Frank Buonomo, declined 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.

The FBI witness and Danton spoke again on Thursday, and Danton allegedly hatched a plot where the witness 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 after an argument Tuesday in which the two fought 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 in June. He had seven goals, 12 points and 141 penalty minutes in 68 games this season with the Blues.

The name change came during the 2002 offseason after a "buildup of incidents" and difficulties with his family, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in September. His new surname came from one of his students at hockey school.

The Devils suspended him in February 2003 for refusing to report to the AHL's Albany River Rats after he complained about playing time and was sent to the minors.

"What happened with New Jersey is behind me, completely," Danton told the paper last fall. "Just getting this fresh start -- I'll do anything I can to help."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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