Former auto mogul Denny Hecker has been relocated from an Illinois prison to the Duluth Federal Prison Camp, Bureau of Prisons officials confirmed Tuesday.
The move, which the bureau published on its website, is the latest in a string of transfers for Hecker, who has served seven years of a 10-year sentence for fraud.
Hecker is not due to be officially released from federal custody until July 2018. He has been eligible, based on the release date, to be placed in a halfway house since July 2017, prison officials have said.
Hecker, 65, was once Minnesota’s largest auto dealer and was well known for using ads throughout the state that featured his likeness on buses, billboards, television commercials and radio spots.
Earlier this month, his former bankruptcy attorney, Barbara May, told the Star Tribune that Hecker had already been transferred to a prison halfway house in Minneapolis. She said she based that information on a phone call that week from Hecker.
However, prison officials had said Hecker was still in the federal prison in Pekin, Ill.
Hecker’s defense attorney Bill Mauzy said Hecker was supposed to have been released to a halfway house, but that the Bureau of Prisons rescinded Hecker’s housing slot following media reports about his alleged release.
Bureau officials declined to comment.
Mauzy said the situation temporarily left his client uncertain about when he would ultimately be transferred from the prison in Pekin and back to Minnesota.
While Hecker has now been relocated to the Duluth prison, it remains unclear when he will be released to a halfway house.
Such a facility helps convicts with counseling, finding work and re-entering society, bureau officials said.
In the meantime, Hecker returns to a familiar place. He was first sent to the Duluth prison from the Sherburne County jail in early 2011 after a judge sentenced him to 10 years for defrauding auto lenders out of more than $80 million in ill-gotten loans.
Hecker was in Duluth just a year.
For reasons the bureau did not disclose, Hecker was subsequently relocated to federal prisons in Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and finally Illinois. Now he returns to Minnesota, where he has family and a reputation as a prolific salesman.
Before the Great Recession, Hecker had amassed a business estimated to be worth about $6.8 billion. His empire included 26 dealerships, several fleet-leasing firms, the Advantage Rent-A-Car chain and scores of limited liability companies carrying different names.
But those businesses, Hecker’s mansions, cars, toys, real estate and other assets have since been sold off, auctioned or returned in an effort to repay creditors.
When Hecker filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009, he originally reported having $18 million in assets and $767 million in debt. Hecker later withdrew his bankruptcy petition after a U.S. bankruptcy trustee found that Hecker was still spending large sums of money while asking the court for debt forgiveness.