Minnesota car dealer gets 10 years prison for fraud
MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Former Minnesota car dealer Denny Hecker was sentenced Friday to 10 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $31 million restitution for fraud that supported a private jet and country club luxury lifestyle.
Hecker, 58, faced a wide-ranging indictment that accused him of enlisting employees, his live-in girlfriend and even his ex-wife's father to conceal personal assets from bankruptcy and obtain loans for cars and trucks using altered documents.
The auto dealer obtained $80 million in loans from Chrysler Financial to acquire more than 5,000 Hyundai vehicles for his leasing business, ultimately costing Chrysler Financial more than $10 million, prosecutors said. He defrauded other lenders of another $10 million for his leasing business, they said.
Hecker claimed poverty in a bankruptcy filing, but was accused of shifting cash and secreting assets before and after the filing. A pre-sentencing report said he misled authorities on cash transactions even after pleading guilty in September.
"The actions you've taken are not consistent with someone who can be trusted, and you have not been as truthful as you could have been in the court system," U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen said at Friday's sentencing hearing.
"Therefore, you do not get a break," she told Hecker.
Overall, prosecutors said fraud schemes in his bankruptcy filing totaled about $1.5 million. Hecker concealed personal transfers totaling more than $300,000 to girlfriend Christi Rowan for large credit card charges, cash, jewelry, vacations and a leased luxury vehicle.
He enlisted his ex-father-in-law to accept cash transfers to his checking account to hide money from the bankruptcy trustee and to write checks to cover private school tuition for his children, golf club memberships, and association dues at the luxury home in which he lived with Rowan.
Hecker retained two pilots for his private jet, which was repossessed in May 2009. After that, he leased a jet from a friend that he used for several months. He took luxury vacations to Hawaii, Las Vegas and Aspen after filing for bankruptcy, including renting a $32,000 condo in Colorado.
(Reporting by David Bailey. Editing by Peter Bohan)
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