Judge to Hecker: prove you're broke or face jail

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON
  • Star Tribune
  • March 17, 2010 - 11:06 AM

A judge on Tuesday found Denny Hecker in civil contempt of court and threatened to jail the former auto mogul if he doesn't get current on support payments to his ex-wives or prove his claim that he's too broke to pay them.

Hennepin County District Judge Jay Quam warned that if Hecker doesn't come up with the money or "disclose complete [financial] information" by 4 p.m. on March 23, he could face a 90-day jail sentence.

In an order issued Tuesday, Quam said he wants to know why Hecker stopped paying his second wife, Sandra Hecker, monthly spousal maintenance and life insurance payments. As of March 9, when Hecker failed to show for a hearing, he owed her $8,190.61, Quam's order said.

The judge also wants to know where Hecker recently obtained $125,155 to repay a retirement account he wrongly raided while divorcing his fourth wife, Tamitha Hecker.

A hearing is scheduled March 30. If Hecker fails to provide the information or attend the hearing, Quam said he can order him locked up.

Hecker is supposed to pay Sandra Hecker $1,894 a month based on their divorce decree from May 1983. After he filed for bankruptcy, he stopped making those payments and told her, "Sandy, you have had a free ride for over 30 years," the order said.

In an interview, Hecker said that is an "embellishment." He said he paid her "like clockwork" when he was making $10 million or $20 million a year, but things have changed. "I wish the circumstances were much different," Hecker said. "But right now I don't have the funds available."

Hecker said papers disclosing the details Quam wants will be delivered to the judge soon.

Becky Toevs Rooney, the attorney for Tamitha Hecker, said Denny Hecker also has failed to make his February and March payments to her.

Hecker said he would happily pay, but he added, "I don't have any income."

Last week, Hecker gave up his federal bankruptcy fight and agreed his $767 million debt won't be forgiven. He is now focusing on fending off federal criminal charges that could send him to prison.

Hecker once owned 26 auto dealerships and other businesses, but now faces 25 federal counts ranging from wire fraud and conspiracy to money laundering. He lives in Medina under a nightly electronic curfew.

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747

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