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Phoenix man convicted for online sexual abuse

A former police officer was found guilty Tuesday afternoon in Jackson County Circuit Court of committing online sex crimes with children.

Mark Allen Heckerman, 43, is guilty of committing 20 felony counts of encouraging child sexual abuse, Judge Ray White said after a one-day bench trial.

Heckerman, an 18-year law enforcement veteran in Hawaii and California, waived his right to a jury trial. Depending on the results of a mandatory pre-sentencing investigation and White's interpretation of the facts of the case, Heckerman could face probation or a maximum of 19 to 20 months in prison for each charge.

Heckerman owned a construction company in the Rogue Valley and at least once attempted to join the Ashland Police Department, but a misdemeanor conviction ended his law enforcement career, police said.

He was convicted in Jackson County for a single count of invasion of privacy in August 2004, court records show.

The sex-abuse case began in spring 2008, when local police received information about Heckerman that was developed during a nationwide pornography investigation, police said.

Armed with a search warrant, officers in March 2008 searched Heckerman's Phoenix home and seized digital images that were later examined at the task force's lab and found to be child pornography, police said.

Heckerman fled the area immediately after the search, and he was believed to be in the Sacramento area, police said.

A Jackson County grand jury in August 2008 indicted Heckerman on the sex-abuse charges, but California police were unable to find and arrest him.

Heckerman surrendered to authorities in November 2008 after a three-day manhunt in Oregon and California. He telephoned investigators with the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force the same day investigators publicly announced their search for him, said Sgt. Josh Moulin, who heads the task force and testified against Heckerman at Tuesday's trial.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

Phoenix man convicted for online sexual abuse