More Hecker toys headed for auction

  • Article by: DEE DEPASS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 2, 2010 - 6:24 AM

And angry U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel nearly sent Hecker's girlfriend, Christi Rowan, to jail over failure to account for some money.

As Denny Hecker cools his heels in jail, more of his personal goodies are headed for the auction block, according to an order Wednesday by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel.

A host of spendy watches, Segways, rifles, Benelli shotguns, ATVs, bikes, scooters and other toys belonging to the fallen auto mogul will be auctioned off to the highest bidder Dec. 11 and 16.

In addition to allowing personal goods of the failed auto giant to be auctioned, an angry Kressel came within inches of sending Hecker's girlfriend, Christi Rowan, to jail for contempt of court at Wednesday's hearing. Kressel previously ordered Rowan to produce a detailed accounting of what ill-gotten Prudential Insurance money she received from Hecker and where she spent it. Hecker is accused of illegally cashing out $154,000 in Prudential policies this summer without telling the bankruptcy court.

Rowan, who previously pleaded guilty to bank fraud, failed to give the bankruptcy trustee or Kressel an adequate accounting by the original Oct. 7 deadline. Bankruptcy trustee Randy Seaver accused Rowan of receiving more than $18,000 of the insurance money from Hecker and asked the judge to find Rowan in contempt of court.

Clad completely in black, Rowan appeared in court with a new pro bono attorney, who requested more time and told the judge that Rowan was desperate to stay out of jail so she could care for her children.

Rowan's attorney, Seamus Mahoney, took a tongue-lashing from the judge for dropping off a pile of unsigned documents just "five minutes before" Wednesday's hearing. The documents did not provide the accounting Kressel had previously demanded. Instead, her documents disputed some of the amounts that Hecker had previously given the judge.

"What the heck is this?" a disgusted Kressel asked Mahoney while wagging the stack of papers at him. "This is a bunch of stuff ... that is not complying with my order."

Mahoney apologized but insisted Rowan was "trying to comply" with his order. Kressel growled back that Rowan is "not complying. She is panicked." He noted that she not only failed to comply with his last order, but also that she was in default on another motion demanding she turn the rest of Hecker's unspent insurance money over to the court.

Mahoney noted Rowan had bought a patio furniture set with some of Hecker's insurance proceeds and had clothes from Nordstrom she had yet to turn over to the bankruptcy trustee. Some clothes from Golf Galaxy had been returned.

Kressel gave Rowan and Mahoney until Tuesday to provide a thorough list of where she got and spent money. He ordered a new hearing for Dec. 10. If Rowan fails to show, U.S. marshals will come after her, Kressel said as a slightly blanched Rowan nodded that she understood.

"This is a game of dodgeball being played by Mr. Hecker and Ms. Rowan," Kressel said. "This has gone on too long."

Kressel then agreed to have Hecker's personal property auctioned.

The Fred Radde & Sons auction house in New Germany, Minn., will handle both sales this month. It is the same auction house that sold hundreds of Hecker's high-priced golf clubs, cars, trucks, boats and other luxury items in the spring.

Those auctions, which each drew about 500 bidders, collectively raised $500,000 for Hecker's estate, said bankruptcy trustee Randy Seaver.

This month's booty includes luxury watches from Rolex, Cartier, Montblanc, Versace and Hubolt. Hecker is accused of secreting away the goods or not reporting them to the bankruptcy trustee for liquidation. He owes hundreds of creditors more than $260 million.

Other items to be sold hint at the rich lifestyle previously led by the auto dealer who once claimed 26 dealerships, a national auto rental chain, a mortgage brokerage businesses and about $6.8 billion in annual revenue. Today, Hecker sits in jail awaiting sentencing for bankruptcy fraud and defrauding Chrysler Financial out of more than $13.8 million.

Also up for auction are several sports vehicles built for children, including a child-sized Hummer, scooters, choppers and ATVs. The list also includes adult toys such as a 2001 EZ Go golf cart, a 2007 Polaris Ranger, a 1988 Mercedes-Benz, a 2003 Toyota, a 2005 tractor, two Segways, two trailers, a 42-inch Panasonic TV, a leaf blower and more.

Hecker, who faces up to 10 years in prison, is expected to be sentenced early next year. Lenders foreclosed on several of his homes, including his Crosslake, Minn., vacation compound and his Medina mansion, and they were sold at sheriff's auctions. Rowan recently won a minor reprieve, in that she will not be evicted from Hecker's Medina property until February.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725

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