By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Petters was put on trial for bilking some $3.65 billion out of investors taken in by his slick persona. The courtroom proceedings have provided a bounty of details from one of the most prolific hucksters in the state's history: phony purchase orders, fake warehouses, money-laundering schemes, and, of course, an affair with an in-over-her-head underling.
Petters serves as an almost too-perfect summation of the colossal waste, greed, and lack of self-awareness that have come to define our times. At the end of each email to his subordinates, Petters included a quote from Henry David Thoreau:
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler."
Petters undoubtedly lived the life he imagined. Unfortunately for him, the laws of the universe—which include the laws of mathematics—were not subject to his whimsy.
Bankrupt automobile magnate Denny Hecker would have been high on our Turkey list just for the monumental collapse of his business empire. Hecker not only owes creditors a mind-blowing $767 million dollars, but the epic failure of his wildly over-leveraged conglomerate has put hundreds of Minnesotans out of work and led to a raft of legal charges, including money laundering, conspiracy, mail and bankruptcy fraud, and siphoning business funds for personal use.
But that's not why he's No. 1. Hecker is guilty of a far more heinous crime: exposing us all to Too Much Information.
The unfortunate side effect of his spectacular fall has been a series of way-too-detailed bankruptcy filings and divorce papers, which have forced the public to confront the grotesqueries of Hecker's personal life. We've heard about his mistress and her $60,000 fur coat, his four marriages and divorces, his planned $9,500 facelift, his gambling trips to Vegas, and his obnoxiously extravagant lifestyle: a personal jet, a 53-foot yacht, a collection of 30 watches (including five Rolexes), and a multimillion-dollar mansion and five vacation homes.
Minnesotans can accept a pompous rich guy running his business into the ground. But the image in our minds of a toad-bellied, taut-faced Hecker lounging shirtless on his yacht while cavorting with his mistress— that, sir, can never be forgiven.