Hecker pleads guilty, says he was texting while drivingby Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — An attorney for Denny Hecker said the embattled auto mogul was texting while driving when he crashed his car into a light pole last year.
Hecker pleaded guilty in Hennepin County District court on Friday to careless driving. In April, he had been charged with reckless driving and driving under the influence of a controlled substance in a single-car accident on Dec. 3, 2008, that sent him to the hospital for two days. A judge dismissed the DWI charge.
"From the very initial charging in this case, Denny has always stated that he was guilty of careless driving," Hecker's attorney Marsh Halberg said in a statement. "Denny stated that he was focusing on texting while he was driving, and not watching the road or other drivers. That was a careless act of which he is guilty."
Hecker was sentenced to 30 days in jail, but that time will be stayed for a year under the condition that he pays a $1,000 fine plus court fees; that he complete a county driver education program; and that he have no alcohol, drug or driver's license violations for one year.
Hecker also will have his driver's license suspended for 90 days, but he will be eligible for a work permit after 15 days of the suspension period.
"I believe this is a very fair resolution," Halberg said.
After the crash, police found traces of six prescription drugs in Hecker's blood, but determined the wreck was an accident, and not related to the medications.
Hecker filed for bankruptcy earlier this month. Records show he owes more than $766 million to a dozen creditors, including millions to banks and automakers, and hundreds of thousands to Las Vegas casinos and credit card companies.