Larry DePalma who played for the Minnesota North Stars, San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins in an undistinguished hockey career is facing 12 to 24 months in jail. DePalma and his brother John both plead no contest to charges of trying to extort $1 million from a Detroit area attorney.
Four years ago the DePalma brothers coached the teenage son of W. Bruce Knight in hockey, and they offered to take him to Russia for additional training. The trip never happened, leading the DePalma’s to take unusual action.
Knight said last year he received a phone call from the DePalmas saying the “Russian Mafia” was angry at Knight for cancelling the trip and demanded “cash from me or everyone in my family will die.”
The DePalmas said they would act as the go-between to prevent injuries. Authorities, including the FBI who arrested the brothers at a meeting where the cash was to be handed over, are convinced there was no international plot, just two men “trying to make some money off an old acquaintance.”
Former athletes needing money isn’t news. There will always be guys that blow their earnings, but only a small few resort to crime to make up for their losses. Working as a security guard or a casino greeter is always better than sitting in jail.
Who knows though, maybe the story was true, and the Russians were just raising money to pay Jaromir Jagr next season.