You might not have known it at the time, but in March 2008, circa the same month Jim Cramer called him the greatest mind on Wall Street, Lenny Dykstra was going through some money trubs. This was just prior to Dykstra putting his beloved Thousand Oaks home on the market, at a selling price that indicated he believed it possible to see a 33% return on the place, after having bought it from Wayne Gretzky for $18.5 million in August 2007 and owning it for ten months. As you are probably aware, despite LD’s streak of crazy spot on the money calls, this one did not pan out as he’d predicted, and the home was foreclosed on, though not before Nails ripped out the bathroom fixtures, left “unfit to print” items on the walls and floor (knowing Dykstra, one must assume feces), and blamed the whole thing on JPMorgan née WaMu. This was also prior to the former car wash king of California being forced to live out of his car and auction off phone calls with himself on Craigslist. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

In March 2008, our boy, likely due to the brain damage inflicted by seeing how far he could push a Twizzler into his ear and not stopping when he felt resistance, just thought he need a little cash. Two-hundred and fifty thousand would probably do the trick, and as luck would have it, someone was offering him that exact amount!

In the late winter of 2008, an entrepreneur named Richard O’Connor, who had become Dykstra’s favored adviser, introduced him to Shannon Illingworth, the founder of a publicly traded company called Automated Vending Technologies, or AVT, and the two quickly cut a deal. O’Connor told me that on March 25, 2008, Illingworth gave Dykstra roughly $250,000 worth of AVT stock in exchange for plugging the company on Cramer’s website, TheStreet.com, and promising to provide a personal introduction to Cramer. O’Connor claims that Dykstra told him he knew the pay-to-plug arrangement was illegal. To avoid getting caught, O’Connor says, the former All-Star baseball player had a solution: “We can just put the stock in Keith’s name,” referring to his brother-in-law, Keith Peel.

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