LINDEN, NJ — Lenny Dykstra’s day in court regarding accusations that he was running an illegal boarding house on a suburban cul-du-sac was delayed when the attorney for the former Major League All-Star failed to appear at a hearing.
Attorney David Bahuriak, who has a history of taking on controversial athletes as clients, characterized his absence in Linden Municipal Court on Feb. 20 before Judge Susan MacMullen as “routine,” refusing to elaborate. It left Dykstra standing alone.
The former centerfielder, who played 12 seasons with the Mets and Phillies, has been issued two summonses by the city, including one alleging that he violated the housing code by running an illegal rooming house in his single-family, Cape Cod-style home on Stockton Circle.
After waiting for Bahuriak, who is based in Philadelphia, to appear, MacMullen rescheduled the hearing to March 19.
When asked in a Feb. 22 phone interview whether an emergency had kept him from attending the hearing, he said, “No, routine.”
The summonses come on the heels of the fine Dykstra paid in October, when the city ordered him remove “illegal occupants” within 30 days.
Bahuriak noted that the summons seems to conflict with state statutes that would make it illegal to remove tenants after a 30-day notice.
“I think there’s a lot of confusion,” he said. “I think there are some unrealistic expectations that have been placed on him.” He added that Dykstra, “wants to comply, he wants peace, he wants quiet. I assure you peace and quiet will eventually be restored.”
Peace and quiet has been replaced by people coming and going at all hours, fistfights, medical emergencies and other disturbances since Dykstra moved in, according to his neighbors.
Linda Graham, who owns one of the five houses on Stockton Circle, said Dykstra has brought “havoc” to the neighborhood.
“First of all, he had a rooming house that we are not zoned for,” she told LocalSource on Feb. 9. “I’ve only witnessed one scuffle on the front lawn. Now he’s claiming that it’s his friends who stay there. So, you charge your friends a thousand dollars for a room? I was not born yesterday.”
Another neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said “things seem to have quieted down a little” around the home since the story began to make national headlines earlier this month.
Photos published on various websites and in newspapers showed piles of trash lined up on Dykstra’s lawn. It was gone by Feb. 9. Dykstra did not answer his door at 2:30 p.m. that day.
The center fielder, known as “Nails” for his tough-guy demeanor, has remained relatively quiet on the subject. He did post a link to a New York Post article on his official Twitter feed. According to the article, Dykstra had invested about $200,000 to refurbish the house. Before that, it had been abandoned for five years, Graham said.
This is not the first time Dykstra has caused a stir since retiring from baseball in 1996. As previously reported by LocalSource, he was indicted Oct. 9, 2018 on two drug counts, one for cocaine and another for methamphetamine, and on one count of threatening an Uber driver, according to the indictment, a copy of which provided by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.
Linden police issued a release saying Dykstra had been arrested outside Linden Police Department Headquarters just before 3:30 a.m. on May 23.
Officers were alerted to a vehicle that sped into the attached parking garage, police said. The driver, a 47-year-old Roselle resident, honked the horn repeatedly until he came to a stop in front of the building, then ran from the car, telling officers that he had picked up Dykstra in Linden moments earlier for a scheduled fare. Dykstra, who had been living in Linden, reportedly tried to change the destination and, when the driver refused, put a weapon to the driver’s head and threatened to kill him, police said.
According to police, no weapon was located, but cocaine, MDMA and marijuana among were reportedly recovered from Dykstra’s belongings.
Dykstra was charged and released. About two weeks later, during a press conference in New York, Dykstra claimed he had been kidnapped and threatened by the Uber driver after he asked to change his destination. Dykstra claimed he called police from the car.
Bahuriak said Dykstra, who is scheduled to appear in Union County Superior Court on March 15, has been “wrongfully accused” and that this is a case “we’re going to fight in court.”
The arrest and indictment are only the latest in a series for Dykstra, who was selected to the MLB All Star Game three times while playing with the Phillies.
Among his arrests and convictions are: pleading no contest in 2011 California State Court for automobile theft, a scheme in which he and others obtained leased vehicles using fraudulent identities; pleading guilty less than a year later in federal court to bankruptcy fraud and money laundering; and charges related to various alleged incidents of sexual assault, drug possession, fraud and indecent exposure.