Danton pleads guilty to murder-for-hire charge

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. -- Former St. Louis Blues player Mike Danton admitted Friday that he tried to hire a hit man, almost
certainly bringing his NHL career to an end.

Danton pleaded guilty to a federal murder-for-hire conspiracy
charge and faces seven to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced
Oct. 22.

The plot unraveled when the would-be hit man turned out to be a
police informant.

"Obviously, this is what I think is a good result," prosecutor
Stephen Clark said. "I think it's a fair deal."

Danton is seeking transfer to a prison in Canada, and
prosecutors and the FBI said they won't oppose the move. U.S.
District Judge William Stiehl, however, noted that Danton may not
be allowed to return to the United States.

The prison time and possible restrictions likely will spell the
end of the 23-year-old's NHL career, but his lawyer Robert Haar
said the plea was the best option his client could choose.

"This was about saving as much of a young man's life as we
could," he said.

Danton was to have been tried in September with co-defendant
Katie Wolfmeyer, 19. He and Wolfmeyer, a college student from a St.
Louis suburb, faced identical conspiracy charges, with Wolfmeyer
accused of trying to hire the would-be killer of Danton's agent,
David Frost.

Danton's plea agreement does not identify Frost as the intended
victim. But prosecutors have said previously in open court that
Frost was the man Danton wanted killed. Frost, when contacted
Friday, angrily denied he was the target, as has been his contention all along.

The would-be killer -- identified by the government for the first
time in court Friday as Justin Jones, a Columbia, Ill., police
dispatcher -- eventually went to police, and Frost was unharmed.

The prosecutor told the judge Friday that Danton had promised to
pay Jones $10,000 for the killing, and to make it appear like a
botched burglary.

Investigators have said Danton was worried that Frost would go
to the Blues with information that could damage his career. Frost
has said he urged Danton to get help for his use of painkillers and
sleeping pills and his erratic behavior.

Wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, Danton hung his head
occasionally when U.S. District Judge William Stiehl outlined the
case against him. He replied to the judge's questions with a
"yes" or "no" before declaring, "I plead guilty."

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.

Wolfmeyer has pleaded not guilty and is to be tried in September.
Her lawyers have said she was a naive young woman simply smitten
with an athlete who ultimately manipulated her.