As he flaunted his wealth, Hecker built a bizarre collection of more than 200 businesses, including 15 auto dealerships, a massive leasing company, restaurants and a hunting lodge. He kept it all afloat with debt, mainly supplied by Chrysler Financial, along with a prodigious talent for wheeling and dealing -- and, various prosecutors and judges say, deceit and fraud.
As his empire crumbled last year, he grew ever more reckless in trying to hold his life together. He looted his children's trust funds, investigators say. He stormed out of a courtroom yelling obscenities.
Disgraced? Of course. But that just begins to describe his personal downfall. Two weeks ago, for want of a mere $5,000 for an alimony payment and for failing to disclose recent transactions, Hecker spent three days in the county jail.
That might have been just a warm-up. He is facing 25 federal counts that may put him in federal prison for the rest of his life.
Debts of $767 million
The beginning of the end came last June when Hecker, now 57, filed personal bankruptcy, owing a staggering $767 million and with assets of just $18 million.
(Source: MaryJo Webster, Automotive News, April 12, 2010.)