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Christi Rowan-Hecker Gets Maximum Prison Sentence

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(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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By Esme Murphy, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Christi Rowan-Hecker, the wife of beleaguered auto mogul Denny Hecker, has been sentenced to 14 months in prison for stealing money that belonged to Hecker’s creditors.

That’s the maximum sentence applicable to the charges Rowan-Hecker faced for committing bankruptcy and wire fraud. Rowan-Hecker was also ordered to pay about $36,000 in restitution and serve five years of probation.

Rowan-Hecker, who was just recently married to Hecker in an over-the-phone ceremony, had been accused of continuing to use American Express accounts even after a judge ordered the accounts to be seized by the FBI. She pleaded guilty to bank fraud and bankruptcy fraud last year after admitting that she lied on a credit application to purchase a Land Rover for Hecker.

She also admitted to falsifying a W2, claiming she was an attorney for the parent company of KARE-TV, when in reality, she was a salesperson for the station.

U.S. District Court Judge Joan Ericksen earlier threw out a plea deal that would’ve let Rowan-Hecker serve zero to six months in prison. The judge appeared infuriated that Rowan-Hecker had used the credit accounts to charge luxury items such as a $400 hair appointment. Prosecutors say she also spent thousands of dollars in gift cards that were supposed to be turned over to authorities.

“It’s mind-boggling to take money that was in the custody of the court and the FBI,” Ericksen said on Tuesday morning. “It takes your breath away.”

Ericksen said Rowan-Hecker deserved the maximum sentence because of the seriousness and brazenness of her actions. She said her conduct showed Rowan-Hecker had no respect for the law.

Rowan-Hecker’s attorney asked for leniency, saying she was one of Hecker’s victims.

Rowan-Hecker, dressed in a white blouse and black skirt, showed no emotion as she was sentenced.

In an unusual move, Rowan was allowed contact with her children following the sentencing. Her 14-year-old sobbed during and after the sentencing.

Rowan-Hecker is asking to serve her sentence at a prison camp in Greenville, Illinois. Minnesota does not have any minimum security federal prison camps for women. With good behavior, Rowan-Hecker could be out in less than a year.

Hecker has been sentenced to 10 years for bankruptcy fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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