Hecker Empire Owes $477M, According to Papers in Chrysler Suit

Chrysler Financial said in a court filing that struggling auto dealer Denny Hecker now owes $477 million, down from the $550 million the lender claimed in January, according to the Star Tribune.

After seizing and selling assets held by Hecker, Chrysler filed a lawsuit accusing Hecker of defaulting on car, real estate and personal loans and vehicle lease agreements.

The court filing, which took place the week of March 16, is the latest in a series of lawsuits aimed at Hecker. He is also being sued by Ford, J.P. Morgan, Carlton Financial Corp., Morrie Wagener’s New Buffalo Auto Sales, Fifth Third Bank, and others for another $17 million in combined debt.

One senior manager of Chrysler Financial’s National Accounts Division said Hecker’s troubles began in October 2008 after his dealership sold 410 vehicles but failed to repay Chrysler the $8 million it was due for financing the inventory. That put Hecker in default. The senior manager also said Hecker failed to repay Chrysler in October for fleet-leasing loans, including those involving 160 General Motors vehicles that Chrysler had financed. Over the weeks, she said, the outstanding debt mounted.

Hecker’s attorney said March 19 his team has not yet determined whether the allegations are true.

In November, Hecker sued Chrysler for breach of contract, saying it closed his credit lines and damaged business operations at 13 of 21 dealerships.

After Hecker sued Chrysler, he shut down nine dealerships, sold three, put his Advantage Rent-A-Car business in bankruptcy, and ultimately sold the rental assets to Enterprise Rent-A-Car for $19 million.

Hecker appears to still be operating seven dealerships across Minnesota, according to his Web site.

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