Hecker pleads not guilty to 18 newest fraud chargesby Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Denny Hecker, once one of the Twin Cities biggest car dealers, pleaded not guilty Thursday to new fraud charges alleging he tried to rip off lenders and hide assets in bankruptcy.
Hecker was arraigned in U.S. District Court on 18 new counts of wire fraud and bankruptcy fraud.
Hecker previously pleaded not guilty to seven fraud and money laundering charges. Hecker attorney Bill Mauzy says the government is trying to cast rough-and-tumble but legitimate business deals as frauds.
Mauzy also complains Hecker has been vilified because of his high-profile divorce and bankruptcy cases.
"If you take a businessman who loses his business, who was once a wealthy person, who goes into bankruptcy, who loses his mansion and loses his luxury car, I could sell tickets to people willing to pay to kick him in the head when he's there on the curb and broke," Mauzy said.
Hecker filed for bankruptcy in June. He claimed $767 million in debt and less than $20 million in assets. Mauzy says he's being paid by friends of Hecker.
Mauzy also said auto finance companies were looking for someone to blame for their troubles after the economy tanked.
"The finance companies started looking back after the fact at the deals that they negotiated when times were better. They concluded Denny cheated them," he said. "We disagree with that."
Hecker's trial on the federal criminal charges is set to begin Oct. 18.