Federal prosecutors in the Denny Hecker auto fraud case petitioned the court Wednesday to seal a document regarding Hecker's former co-defendant Steven Leach.

It was not immediately clear why U.S. prosecutor Nicole Engisch wants the document sealed. The request is somewhat unusual, as nearly all documents in the sordid Hecker fraud case, which involved four co-defendants, have been open to the public.

Chris Burke, spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons, said he did not know which documents might be sealed.

But Burke said that according to prison guidelines, Leach is "potentially eligible for placement in a halfway house now. But it would be up to the warden of the prison he's in now, and it would be based on how" full the halfway houses are in that area.

Leach, 57, is serving a 27-month sentence in the Yankton Federal Prison Camp in South Dakota for helping Hecker scam Chrysler Financial out of millions of dollars in ill-gotten auto loans.

Leach pleaded guilty in 2010 to a single count of conspiracy for his role in altering loan documents Hecker used to mislead Chrysler Financial about the number of vehicles that manufacturers were willing to buy back if not sold.

Leach, a Bloomington native and the former president of Hecker's Rosedale Leasing/Walden Fleet entity, was imprisoned March 22, 2011. In addition to jail time, Leach was ordered to pay restitution of $14.2 million.

Leach's attorney, Robert Sicoli, has said that with good behavior and participation in a prisoner alcohol abuse rehab program, he expected Leach to serve only 17 months in jail.

Leach completed his 17th month last week. Leach's full release date from either jail or a halfway house is April 10, 2013.

That date already assumes Leach will earn 70 days off his sentence for good behavior, said Burke at the Bureau of Prisons.

Once released, Leach faces three years of probation.

Hecker, who once owned 27 auto dealers and a large auto fleet and leasing business, is serving 10 years in prison for bankruptcy fraud and defrauding auto lenders. He is in the federal prison camp in Loretto, Pa.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725