The man central to Denny Hecker’s 2007 cut-and-paste loan document scheme was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Feb. 8 for his role in the fraud that cost auto lenders millions of dollars, according to the Star-Tribune.
Steven Leach, 55, was also ordered to pay restitution of $14.2 million.
Meanwhile, Hecker, who is currently held in county jail, is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 11. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison for his role in the fraud.
Leach worked for Hecker for 20 years, becoming the president of Rosedale Leasing as part of the Hecker empire that once boasted $6 billion in annual sales.
Leach’s attorney, Robert Sicoli, argued that Leach never profited from the Hecker fraud and yet was facing prison time when “other unindicted co-conspirators” were left untouched. Co-defendant and former Hecker employee James Gustafson was sentenced on Feb. 3 to two years of probation and 120 hours of community service for lying to the court about exactly when he learned of Hecker and Leach’s fraud and for issuing a phony vehicle title for Hecker’s Cadillac Escalade.
Leach, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy on Oct. 1, admitted that he had followed Hecker’s orders in 2007, when he told an assistant to cut and paste false wording into a Hyundai fleet financing document. The change falsely made it appear as though Hyundai had guaranteed to buy back nearly all of the vehicles in the fleet if Hecker failed to sell them off the dealer lot.
Leach faxed the altered document to Hecker in Michigan. Hecker then presented the doctored documents to Chrysler Financial and obtained financing for the Hyundai fleet. The fraud resulted in Chrysler Financial lending Hecker and his businesses $80 million and eventually losing about $13 million.
A similar scheme of altered documents was first took place against Chrysler Financial earlier in 2007, regarding financing a fleet of Suzuki vehicles. In that case, a key page that outlined incentives to Hecker was intentionally omitted. That fraud was replicated with other lenders who also lost money to Hecker. The total amount lost in the Hyundai and Suzuki schemes was $14.2 million. Ericksen ruled that’s how much Leach would pay in restitution.
Ericksen ordered Leach to pay $2,500 a month in restitution, to serve 27 months in jail, and another three years on probation.