Denny Hecker removed from general population at Duluth prison camp
DULUTH, Minn. - Former Twin Cities auto mogul Denny Hecker has been removed from the general population at the Duluth Federal Prison Camp, where he is serving 10 years for defrauding his lenders and the bankruptcy court, and thinks he may be transferred within the next few days to another federal prison.
Hecker, 59, was moved in early December to a special housing unit where he shares a windowless room with another prisoner, according to Brian Toder, a Minneapolis attorney who previously represented Hecker.
Toder, who visited Hecker on Monday, said that Hecker's new cell is similar to solitary confinement and that Hecker no longer gets to participate in social activities - such as working in the library, playing racquetball and tennis - as he did in his first 10 months of incarceration.
"He was getting well adjusted to where he was," Toder said. "But the situation he's in now, no one can get adjusted to that. It's hard time."
Toder said that Hecker has not received any official confirmation from the Bureau of Prisons that he is being moved but that Hecker is hearing rumors it could happen this week. It's possible, Toder said, that Hecker could be moved to a medical facility in Rochester, because Hecker has medical problems and recently needed a transfusion at a Duluth hospital. But it's also possible he could be moved to any other facility, Toder said.
Toder also told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that "there's a rumor that the Department of Justice thinks (Hecker is) a flight risk."
Hecker's daughter, Kelly Hecker, said she received a letter from her father last week saying that he has been in solitary confinement since early December and that he lost his phone and visitor privileges. The letter didn't say why he had gotten in trouble, she said.
Toder said Hecker lost his phone privileges briefly for having a cell phone, but that it is not related to his move to a special housing unit.
In related news, Hecker's most recent ex-wife has lost her nearly two-year battle with Chrysler Financial over $72,000.
Tamitha Hecker fought for the money all the way to the state appeals court, which on Monday upheld a lower court ruling that her ex-husband's largest creditor could garnish the money in its effort to recoup a $477 million judgment.
Chrysler Financial won the judgment in April 2009 after a judge ruled that Hecker, once the owner of a network of automobile businesses, owed the lender for loans he had personally guaranteed.
Hecker filed for bankruptcy weeks later but soon ran afoul of the bankruptcy trustee and ended up agreeing that he would be on the hook for any debt that remains after his assets are liquidated.
That opened the door for the Detroit-based lender and other creditors to go after anything the bankruptcy estate doesn't have a claim to.
Tamitha Hecker sought $15 million when she filed for divorce in the summer of 2009 but has received far less.
The $72,000 Tamitha Hecker and Chrysler Financial have been fighting over was all that remained (after legal fees for the couple's attorneys) from about $125,000 Hecker received from a "mystery donor" to repay funds he had raided illegally from a retirement account in fall 2009.
That retirement account, plus another containing about $96,000, were the only assets exempt from Hecker's creditors.
But that changed, the appeals court said, when Hecker liquidated the retirement account, then used money given to him to restore the funds. The money didn't go back into the closed retirement account; instead, it was held by the court clerk until the family court judge could decide how it would be divvied up.
In May 2010, the Heckers reached an agreement that Tamitha Hecker would get the $72,000 and Hecker would keep the money from the other account. But by then, Chrysler Financial already had launched court proceedings to garnish the funds, saying the money wasn't protected from creditors because it was a gift from the mystery donor, later revealed to be Maple Grove businesswoman Nita Singh Johnson.
Tamitha Hecker argued that Hecker never had control of the money because Singh Johnson gave the money to Hecker's attorney and the attorney wrote a check to the court. But Monday's appeals court ruling said Hecker had "constructive possession" over the money the entire time.
Tamitha Hecker's attorney did not return a call for comment.
Tamitha Hecker, now 45, has received more than $64,000 from assets sold by the bankruptcy estate, according to bankruptcy trustee Randy Seaver.
She also got to keep two cars, any money she had in a safety deposit box and her bank accounts, and all jewelry except one Rolex watch.
A court document filed by Hecker's attorney claimed the safety deposit box contained $200,000 and that her jewelry was worth between $1 million and $2 million.