After serving nearly 10 months for bank fraud and theft, Christi Rowan was recently released from an Illinois prison and remanded to the custody of the Minneapolis Community Corrections division, an official confirmed Wednesday.
Rowan, who married imprisoned auto dealer Denny Hecker in an over-the-phone ceremony in February, has been assigned a case manager and is "in transition," meaning she is in a work-release jail, halfway house or some other form of supervised custody, said Richard Safra, Minneapolis Community Corrections manager.
Her official release from corrections custody is scheduled for Feb. 28, 2012. However, it is customary for prisoners to be transferred to some form of "transitional" housing one to six months before their official release date, Safra said. If good behavior and rules are strictly followed, prisoners should eventually be allowed to return to their homes. He declined to say just where Rowan is in that process.
Rowan became a central character in the Hecker saga when the trustee in his bankruptcy case accused her of hiding jewelry, cars and money from the court; refusing to let the trustee's appraiser into the Medina mansion she shared with Hecker; and of siphoning funds from Hecker's bank account after being ordered not to.
In April 2010, Rowan admitted she defrauded Endura Financial Federal Credit Union a year earlier by submitting a false loan application and a false W2 form. The documents allowed her to obtain a 2008 Land Rover for Hecker just before he filed for bankruptcy protection.
Rowan was sentenced this past March to 14 months in prison for bank fraud, theft and for stealing Hecker's gift cards from the FBI.
When sentencing Rowan, U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen also ordered her to pay $36,098 in restitution and to remain on probation for five years after leaving prison.
She served nearly 10 months in the minimum security women's prison in Greenville, Ill., before being transferred to Minneapolis. It is not exactly clear when she was transferred, but unofficial calls and e-mails from Hecker acquaintances to the Star Tribune have placed Rowan in the Twin Cities in recent weeks.
Safra declined to give details about Rowan's case, but said most prisoners "in transition" are permitted to leave their halfway house or jail to work or find work. He also said the Bureau of Prisons tries to accommodate prisoners' families.
Prisoners remanded to Minneapolis Community Corrections may be placed in any of the prison halfway houses in Minnesota, North Dakota or South Dakota. However, Rowan has a minor teenage daughter in the Twin Cities, which makes it possible that the prison system may have assigned her to a location closer to her family, Safra said.
He added that according to the Bureau of Prisons records, Christi Rowan has not changed her name to Christi Hecker, an assertion previously made by a family member. Safra added that Rowan has said she has no interest in speaking to the media.
Hecker, who once owned 26 dealerships and a national car rental chain, was sentenced in February to 10 years in prison for fraud and conspiracy. He is serving his time in the Federal Prison Camp in Duluth.
Dee DePass • 612-673-7725