Imprisoned former Twin Cities auto mogul Denny Hecker’s fifth marriage, the one with the jailhouse ceremony, is devolving to an acrimonious end with accusations of cheating and threats.
Hecker married Christi Rowan-Hecker in unusual fashion in February 2011 via speaker phone while he was locked up for crimes related to his defrauding $30 million from auto lenders. She was with a pastor at the Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Maple Grove.
Rowan-Hecker said the couple have been physically separated since Oct. 18, 2010, and have not shared a roof as husband and wife. The couple were together before Hecker went to prison while he was still married to his fourth wife, the mother of two of his children.
Initial questions about the legality of the speakerphone wedding appear to have been settled, because Rowan-Hecker has now filed a bona fide divorce petition in Hennepin County District Court. She went to prison shortly after the nuptials and was freed in March 2012 after serving a year for crimes related to shielding Hecker’s assets during his bankruptcy and divorce from his fourth wife.
Absence apparently hasn’t made Hecker and Rowan-Hecker’s hearts grow fonder. This past fall, she sought and received a restraining order against Hecker for harassment in part because he accused her of cheating on him and threatened to have her followed.
He’s in the Federal Correctional Institution in Littleton, Colo. Rowan-Hecker’s petition said she now lives in St. Paul and earns $2,000 a month as a legal assistant. She said she received an e-mail from the 62-year-old Hecker on Sept. 12 saying that he wanted a divorce.
In her divorce petition, Rowan-Hecker, who seeks to change her name back to Christi Westmoreland, said she and Hecker own household furnishings and goods, but no retirement accounts.
During their four-year marriage, Rowan-Hecker said she accrued nearly $1 million in debt, including $298,999 to the IRS, $425,332 to federal bankruptcy court and $91,000 on credit. She isn’t seeking spousal maintenance from Hecker.
The first public indication that all wasn’t well in the Hecker marriage came last fall when Rowan-Hecker sought the restraining order against Hecker, saying he was calling, sending numerous e-mails and letters with defamatory statements about her to her family and the media trying to hurt her reputation.
“This stalking and harassment is causing a substantial adverse affect [sic] on my safety, security and privacy,” she said in asking for the restraining order.
On Sept. 15, Hecker sent her a photo of the two of them ripped apart and the words, “You will go to hell!” She said he also sent a card with the backside of a horse to her work colleague.
In 93 e-mails between Sept. 8 and Sept. 18, he called her a “gold digger,” accused her of cheating on him and insisted she talk to him.
Hecker didn’t request a hearing on the harassment petition so a judge signed off on the request. But that didn’t end the harassment, according to court documents.
Rowan-Hecker said Hecker’s harassment continued with the help of a Chaska man, Paul Warnert, a friend of her estranged spouse. In her petition, Rowan-Hecker said Warnert has e-mailed her and her boss and sent letters to her ex-husband and her child as well as stealing items from her home on behalf of Hecker.
A hearing on that petition is set for March 3. Warnert didn’t return a phone call Friday.
Hecker has yet to file a response to Rowan-Hecker’s divorce petition.