Originally created 04/24/04

Blues player to make plea



ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Blues forward Mike Danton will plead innocent 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."

It is uncertain when the arraignment will happen. Danton, 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 over."

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 bond.

In Tampa, Fla., Vincent Lecavalier broke out of his playoff scoring slump in his first postseason game against the team he grew up idolizing.

Lecavalier had two goals and an assist Friday night to lead Tampa Bay over Montreal Canadiens in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Nikolai Khabibulin looked unbeatable again, stopping 21 shots to post his fourth shutout of the playoffs.

Lecavalier, a native of Montreal who celebrated his 24th birthday this week, didn't have a goal in 12 playoff games, dating to Game 4 of Tampa Bay's first-round victory over Washington last year.

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 apartment. Federal authorities said the men argued April 13 over Danton's "promiscuity and use of alcohol." Danton allegedly feared the acquaintance would ruin Danton's career.

Wolfmeyer was accused of contacting the would-be hit man, who alerted the FBI.

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.