Onetime automobile magnate Denny Hecker is a free man.
After serving more than seven years in prison for fraud, Hecker was released on Tuesday, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He had been staying in a Minneapolis halfway house since February.
Hecker was sentenced in 2011 to 10 years in prison for his crimes, which included defrauding lenders out of millions by falsifying loan documents.
His initial release date was scheduled for July 2019, but it was later changed to July 2018. Bureau of Prisons representatives declined to explain the change last year, and the bureau did not return a message seeking comment on Wednesday.
One of his former attorneys said last year that the sentence may have changed because Hecker completed a drug rehab program while in prison.
Halfway houses help inmates who will soon be released rebuild their lives, with services such as job counseling and financial planning, according to the bureau’s website. The only Minnesota location is a 20-bed facility on Lake Street in Minneapolis.
The former attorney, Brian Toder, told the Star Tribune in 2017 that Hecker’s expertise could be valuable to auto dealers.
“There are a lot of people who may not want to buy a used car from Denny, but there are a lot of dealers who would pay good money for him to act as a consultant because Denny really knew the ins and outs of selling,” Toder said.
Hecker moved around frequently while in the prison system, being transferred to nine prisons before he landed back in Minneapolis.
Before his downfall, Hecker commanded an auto empire that included 26 dealerships and the Advantage Rent-A-Car chain. His name and image featured prominently in advertisements, and his name can still be seen on car stickers around the Twin Cities.