By Esme Murphy

By Esme Murphy, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In the latest twist in the saga of former auto mogul Denny Hecker, WCCO has learned that Hecker and his then-girlfriend, Christi Rowan, were married last week at a church in Maple Grove.

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The marriage took place Feb. 22 at the Lord of Life Lutheran Church. Hecker was on the phone from the Sherburne County Jail during the ceremony.

The marriage certificate was filed Tuesday in Hennepin County, which shows that Rowan has changed her name to Christi Rowan-Hecker.

It also states that Hecker and Rowan-Hecker were married by Lutheran Pastor Peter Geisendorfer-Lindgren. Lindgren is the same pastor who the U.S. Attorney accused of trying to conduct a stealth marriage between the two at the U.S. Attorney’s office late last year.

During the ceremony, Rowan-Hecker was at the church with the pastor and had her nanny act as a witness.

In a telephone interview from jail, Hecker said, “Our normal has never been like anybody else’s normal.”

Hecker said via phone that he and Rowan-Hecker had been trying to get married for months and that he was tired of reporters referring to Rowan-Hecker as his girlfriend.

“We are now husband and wife. The press can now print and say Christi Rowan, wife. Christi Hecker, wife, instead of Christi Rowan, the girlfriend,” Hecker said from jail.

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Rowan-Hecker was arrested Feb. 23 by federal agents after she went to visit Hecker in jail. Prosecutors say she violated the terms of her pre-sentencing release when they discovered she had taken out more than $9,000 in December from a previously undisclosed Hecker bank account at U.S. Bank.

Hecker says Rowan-Hecker is one of the few people who have stood by him.

“Our family and myself have found out who your friends are. When you have lots of money, you have lots of friends and when you lose money, it’s amazing how many friends disappear,” he said.

Hecker insists that there is no financial or legal advantage to him getting married. A number of legal experts WCCO consulted agreed that there is nothing financially or, even in terms of jail visitation, that the couple can gain.

But the marriage may actually be getting the couple into more legal hot water because Minnesota does not recognize marriages by proxy, meaning when one person is not there. The Hennepin County Attorney’s office says both their criminal and civil divisions are reviewing the marriage.

Rowan-Hecker remains in jail and faces a much stiffer sentence than the zero to six months she was originally looking at after she pleaded guilty to lying on a credit application to purchase a Land Rover for Hecker and to lying while testifying under oath in Hecker’s bankruptcy case.

Now instead of a maximum of six months in prison, Rowan-Hecker could face a maximum of 10 years. But legal experts say the likely sentence will be less because she is deciding not to fight the charges, putting her at better odds with both prosecutors and the judge.

Both Rowan-Hecker and Hecker are in separate units at the Sherburne County Jail. Hecker is scheduled to be sent to a federal prison soon to serve his 10-year sentence for bankruptcy and wire fraud. No sentencing date has been set yet for Rowan-Hecker.

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Hecker says he and Rowan-Hecker have not spoken since her arrest last week. The pastor who performed the ceremony is out of town and could not be reached for comment.

Esme Murphy