Tuesday P.M. Report

Denny Hecker pleads guilty to two felonies, faces up to 10 years in prison: Former auto mogul Denny Hecker faces up to a decade behind bars after pleading guilty today to two felony criminal counts in a plea bargain with prosecutors. Hecker, 58, admitted defrauding lenders, including Chrysler Financial and U.S. Bank, to finance his empire of auto dealerships and pad his own pocket. He pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Both counts carry a maximum prison sentence of five years. Hecker is now on 24-hour house arrest while he awaits sentencing. Prosecutors, who were pursuing a range of others charges, agreed to drop them in exchange for the plea bargain. Read full story

Digi-Key breaks billion-dollar sales mark for first time: Digi-Key Corp. is in the big leagues now. The Thief River Falls-based electronic components distributor said it surpassed $1 billion in worldwide sales for 2010. Digi-Key was headed toward the $1 billion milestone in 2008 but was thwarted by the recession. Now, the privately held company is projecting nearly $1.5 billion in sales for 2010. Read full story

St. Jude Medical invests $60 million in CardioMEMS remote heart-monitoring technology: St. Jude Medical has paid $60 million to acquire a 19 percent stake in CardioMEMS, a firm that’s developed a wireless patient-monitoring technology. Little Canada-based St. Jude also secured rights to buy privately held CardioMEMS for another $375 million. CardioMEMS, based in Atlanta, has developed a device that can be implanted in a patient’s pulmonary artery to track blood pressure in the heart and displays the data via an electronic monitoring system. Read full story

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