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Minnesota car dealer busted in auto loan scam

Feb 17, 2011 Brian Bradley

The owner of a Minnesota car dealership was sentenced to 10 years in prison and forced to repay more than $31 million after he was found guilty of running a lengthy auto lending scam that included $80 million in false loans, Reuters reports.

 Denny Hecker acquired approximately $80 million from Chrysler Financial for his business, which covered more than 5,000 vehicles. However, he eventually cost Chrysler and other lenders upwards of $20 million over a three-year period. He was initially charged for forging auto lending documents through false identity verification measures and not disclosing assets during a bankruptcy case. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Hecker still owes Chrysler Financial nearly $250 million in back payments. "You're going to get the full 10 years, which is appropriate and necessary. Behaving like a scoundrel is not tolerated in the court system," U.S. District Judge Joan Erickson stated to Hecker, the Star-Tribune reports. Hecker apologized during this sentencing, but was given the full punishment by a judge who likened his actions to that of other infamous Ponzi schemes, including the case of Tom Petters. Petters was another Minnesota resident busted for an elaborate lending scam that reached into the 10-figure range, for which he received 50 years in prison.