Imprisoned former Minnesota auto mogul Denny Hecker recently learned he will spend one less year in prison than expected.
Hecker, incarcerated since October 2010 for defrauding auto lenders and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, is now expected to be released July 4, 2018, instead of the previously scheduled July 4, 2019, the Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed Wednesday.
Officials would not disclose the reason.
“The reason for an inmate’s sentence reduction is not always public information, such as in this case,” wrote bureau spokesman Justin Long Wednesday in an e-mail to the Star Tribune.
The colorful Hecker was originally sentenced to 10 years in prison. But his attorneys said then that Hecker could earn some form of early release if he completed a prisoner drug and alcohol treatment program he requested in 2011.
There also is a question of whether “good behavior” played into the decision.
Hecker’s prison tenure has had its moments of drama.
He was married over a telephone to his former mistress, Christi Rowan, while he was temporarily imprisoned at the Sherburne County jail in 2011.
Hecker was sentenced to the minimum security federal prison in Duluth and moved there in late 2011. But by March 2012, he was ushered into solitary confinement and then moved to federal prisons in Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Illinois.
Hecker’s attorney at the time, Brian Toder, said Hecker was initially punished for violating cellphone privileges in Duluth and was later moved to different prisons because federal authorities feared Hecker might attempt to escape once Rowan finished a jail sentence.
Rowan served 12 months in prison for her role in helping Hecker hide money from the U.S. bankruptcy trustee and the FBI. She was released in March 2012.
Hecker continued to be bounced from prison to prison in what some prison authorities referred to as “diesel therapy,” designed to help difficult prisoners better follow rules. His latest home is in Pekin, Ill.
Hecker, a Minneapolis high school graduate, was well known for building an auto empire of 26 dealerships, several fleet-leasing operations and the national Advantage Rent-A-Car chain. Altogether, the businesses produced about $6.8 billion in annual revenue.
Hecker was the endless pitchman with self-starring car advertisements on buses, radio, TV and billboards across the state. His highly leveraged auto business grew rapidly in the years before the Great Recession, but fell apart when the economy tanked and car sales plummeted. He was convicted of defrauding auto lenders of $31 million and falsifying loan and bankruptcy records.