No Jail Time for Hecker Co-defendant Gustafson

James Gustafson, who faced 25 years in prison for two charges, was sentenced to two years probation, 120 hours of community service, and a $1,000 fine.

James Carl Gustafson, a former executive of fallen auto mogul Denny Hecker, was sentenced Thursday to two years probation, 120 hours of community service, and a $1,000 fine for his role in defrauding Chrysler Financial Services, LLC.

Gustafson was charged by the U.S. Attorney's office in September and he pleaded guilty about a week later to one count of making a false statement to investigators and one count of mail fraud.

The two charges Gustafson pleaded guilty to carry a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, but prosecutors had set a guideline of four to 10 months because of the smaller role he played in the fraud.

Gustafson allegedly lied to federal investigators by telling them that he didn't know until October 2008 that Hecker had falsified a document from Hyundai Motor America in order to defraud Chrysler. Gustafson actually knew about the falsified submission-which occurred in November 2007-prior to October 2008, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors also said Gustafson attempted to transfer the title on Hecker's 2004 Cadillac Escalade to Northstate Financial “in order to mask the vehicle's true owner and hide the asset from owner's primary creditor, Chrysler Financial”-an act that constitutes mail fraud.

Hecker and his other co-defendant Steven Leach will be sentenced next week for their roles in defrauding Chrysler. Hecker faces up to 10 years in prison for two fraud charges and will be sentenced on February 11. Leach, who faces up to five years in prison for one fraud charge, will be sentenced on February 8.