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Judge Throws Out Rowan’s Plea Deal, New Charges Possible

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By Holly Wagner, WCCO-TV and Esme Murphy, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Christi Rowan was in tears as she was lead away by U.S. Marshals Thursday morning.

The girlfriend of former auto mogul Denny Hecker will remain in jail, after making an unexpected court appearance Thursday — a day before she was scheduled to be sentenced for fraud.

Rowan was arrested Wednesday night by federal agents after she went to visit Hecker in jail. Prosecutors say she violated the terms of her pre-sentencing release and discovered she had taken out more than $9,000 in December from a previously undisclosed Hecker bank account at U.S. Bank.

Rowan’s attorneys are expected to ask the judge to let her go so she can take care of her two children, ages 6 and 14. They also want the judge to delay the sentencing for another two weeks.

Rowan pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud for helping Hecker in his fraud scheme last year.

She was arrested Wednesday night in what prosecutors described as “outrageous” conduct in court documents. The documents allege Rowan got access to stock Hecker owned and hid from the government and then cashed checks worth thousands of dollars.

On Thursday, Judge Joan Ericksen expressed anger that Rowan continued to charge items on American Express gift cards, even after the cards were turned over to the FBI.

Court documents say Rowan used the cards to charge a $400 hair appointment, purchase $750 in items from Nordstrom and more than $660 in items from J. Crew.

Prosecutors are asking the judge to up her sentence and send her to prison for a year instead of six months, which was the previous terms under the plea agreement.

Rowan’s attorney had planned to ask the judge for probation on Friday. She said Rowan was “shocked” and experienced a “wake-up call” after she was arrested visiting Hecker in jail.

Ericksen said before the court appearance that Rowan’s latest stunt could put her in more trouble than she was already facing — adding that the arrest and allegations have swamped the plea agreement she made on the fraud charges. She said she could not let Rowan out of jail because she could not be trusted.

There will be a hearing next Wednesday to discuss the allegations that Rowan cashed the stock checks, which the judge said are far more serious than the plea she made with the federal government.

Rowan could face new, more serious charges, in light of the current allegations. She will remain in jail until a sentencing date can be set.

Exclusive Interview with Christi Rowan (Nov. 18, 2010)

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