When last I visited the Denny Hecker saga (see The Hecker Timeline), he was facing down 18 new charges of wire and bankruptcy fraud. He and Steve Leach, one of his former execs, were looking at 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 20 years on each count of wire fraud. Pile on top of that another 10 for Hecker for money laundering and five for each… well, let’s just say that he would surely die in prison.
Since then there have been many more twists, tears and admissions of guilt. Let’s catch up, shall we?
After the new felony charges came down, Hecker had to appear in family court regarding the missing support payments to second wife Sandra. He was behind something like $8,000 to her. On March 30th, the judge ordered Hecker to jail after he was found in contempt of court for hiding assets and lying about what he still owns.
He was to remain in custody for up to 90 days unless he disclosed financial information and paid his court-ordered obligations. Back at the start of the divorce proceedings from Tamitha, Hecker raided his 401K of $125,000 without Tamitha’s permission, presumably so she wouldn’t get her hands on it but then the money seemed to disappear into the ether. It could have gone to anything – house maintenance, car payments, boat payments, food for Christi and the kids -Â Denny’s got a lot of bills. After he got in trouble for taking the money, Hecker put it back with the help of a mysterious benefactor.
Dear Mysterious Benefactor,
I am also in need of $125,000. Sure, I haven’t done you any favors but I’m a decent person who has never committed a felony. Parking tickets, sure. Wire fraud? No. I would like to build a new patio and redo my bathroom. So how about it?
A lawyer for the mysterious benefactor filed a 10-page legal memo seeking to keep the person’s identity a secret. All very Dickensian. But it didn’t matter because it came out that mysterious benefactor was Nita Singh Johnson, 45, of Wayzata and that a lot of people knew it already. Huh. Not sure what the Denny-Nita connection is. Seriously people, if this guy was hot, if he looked anything like, say, George Clooney, I’d understand all this desire to rush to his aid a lot better.
After Hecker agreed to play ball with the judge and disclose his assets, he was released from jail. It only took three days – jail has a funny way of changing people’s minds about things like keeping secrets.
Meanwhile, back in bankruptcy court, $400 million of Heckerâ€™s debt to creditors was ordered to stand, meaning that he’ll be indebted for the rest of his life, barring some miracle resurgence as a zeppelin tycoon. As part of the settlement Tamitha Hecker got to keep some assets (including $189,000 in cash, two cars and nearly $1 million worth of jewelry) and Heckerâ€™s girlfriend, Christi Rowan, got to keep the $30,000 German shepherd Hecker gave her as a gift. I hope that dog poops gold nuggets or Rowan got the short end of the stick on this deal. According to the Wall Street Journal, “a bankruptcy trustee determined that the dog likely couldnâ€™t be sold for more than $5,000.” And we think new car depreciation is bad?
Speaking of Rowan, on April 9th she was charged with lying in court and bank fraud for allegedly helping Hecker hide assets in his bankruptcy case. In 2008, she went to a Land Rover/Jeep dealership to get a car for Hecker and falsified the credit application, saying she was a lawyer for Gannet News Service and that she made over $189,000 per year. She also asserted her employment by Gannett and a $150,000 salary under oath during Hecker’s bankruptcy case. In truth, she is unemployed except in her daydreams where she is a freelance photographer specializing in portraits of children.
[You may remember from the previous Timeline, that Rowan is no stranger to felonies. According to the Star Tribune, she was “charged with felony theft in January 2000 for embezzling a total of $14,000 over two incidents in 1999 from then-employer Mel Clayton, a Ford dealer in Arizona.”]
Later in the month, she pleaded guilty to the fraud charges and agreed to help in the government’s investigation of Hecker. Ouch. That’s got to make the sex life a bit awkward. The plea agreement means that she could serve as little as six months in prison and up to five years of supervised release.
On April 20th, attorneys and an auctioneer, accompanied by marshals, finally gained entry to the Hecker home in Medina to tag items for auction. But Hecker and Rowan weren’t there (Rowan had thwarted earlier attempts to enter the home and tag the loot, thus the need for marshals) so there weren’t any Jerry Springer-style confrontations.
Goods in the house included furniture, ping pong and pool tables, TVs, memorabilia and art. Court records said a tanning bed was in the house (dibs!!) and two Range Rovers.
But then… surprise! – unidentified donors came through with $15,000 to pay the trustee in the bankruptcy case so Denny and Christie could keep their stuff. The source of the money needs to be investigated and the deal requires court approval but it was enough to keep the moving vans from loading up and driving off with the ping pong table and the tanning bed, etc.
Now, allow me if you will to step up on this box and say that, in light of all the underhanded, felonious shit Denny Hecker has done, I find it offensive that anyone would care whether he and this lady friend get to keep their tanning bed, ping pong table, mini-fridge, martini glasses, recliners, whatever. I can think of much better things to do with $15,000 – people who could really use the money who haven’t committed any crimes other than being poor. Why does anyone still care what happens to this guy? Who cares if they sit in an empty $1.9 million house? Sometimes life requires you to downsize. Facing prison might be one of those times.
Now the search is on for three bronze, life-size bears that used to be in Hecker’s front yard. Bankruptcy trustee Randy Seaver believes a Hecker friend, Patrick Terhaar of Medina, has them in his garage (Terhaar lives across the street) and is trying to serve Terhaar with court papers that would give authorities access to the garage. Terhaar has been out of town. But he has to know what’s up and I suspect he’s probably trying to arrange for a midnight transfer of the bears to someone else’s garage. Terhaar reportedly may also have a few of Hecker’s all-terrain vehicles.
Brian Lambert on Minnpost.com reminds us that, “The bronze bears are not to be confused with Hecker’s lifesize statue of Elvis.”
Finally, in the last nugget of Hecker news left to report, Hecker’s friends James and Jamie Gustafson (Have you ever heard more Minnesotan names???) gave Seaver access to three Hecker properties in Crosslake, where staff is ready to go in and tag items for sale.
Seaver is the hardest working trustee in the bankruptcy game these days – someone buy that man a drink.