Co-Defendant in Hecker Case Pleads Guilty

The codefendant of fallen auto mogul Denny Hecker accepted a plea agreement and was set to formally plead guilty on Oct. 1 for his part in a scheme that defrauded Chrysler Financial of millions of dollars, according to the Star Tribune.

Steven Leach's admission of guilt follows guilty pleas by Hecker and a former co-worker, James Gustafson, earlier in September. The guilty pleas culminate the two-year saga of Hecker's auto empire misadventures.

Under the plea agreement, Leach faces a maximum of five years in prison. Hecker changed his plea to guilty on Sept. 7 and now faces up to 10 years in prison.

Hecker had already identified Leach as his co-conspirator, and former Hecker employee James Gustafson pleaded guilty on Sept. 27 to mail fraud and lying to FBI and IRS investigators. He also admitted to prosecutors that he heard Leach instruct a low-level employee to alter loan documents in late 2007.

Those falsified documents, which the government said Hecker initially ordered, overstated the collateral Hecker had on a fleet of Hyundai vehicles. Based on the faked papers, Chrysler Financial loaned Hecker's leasing firm $80 million.

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