EAST ALTON SEX OFFENDER PLEADS TO POSSESSION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
An East Alton sex offender pled guilty on Thursday, April 21, 2011, to possession of child pornography, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today.
The facts of the case were as follows: On Tuesday August 31, 2010, the United States Marshals service and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office conducted an operation in Madison County, Illinois to check on all sex offenders in the county to ensure they were in compliance with the sex offender registry. Mark Heppner, who lived in East Alton, Illinois, was one of the registered sex offenders.
While conducting the check on Heppner, the Marshals asked him questions about his computer usage and what might be on his computer. Heppner told the Marshals he believed he may have child pornography. Following a preview of the material on Heppner’s computer, agents seized all of the computer equipment from the home.
On September 8, 2010, agents obtained a search warrant in Madison County Illlinois to conduct a forensic search on all of the computer media seized from Heppner. Forensic investigation showed that Heppner possessed hundreds of images of minors engaging in sexually explicit activity.
As a registered sex offender, Mark Heppner, faces a 10 - 20 year sentence in prison for being in possession of child pornography.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigations Cybercrimes Task Force, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, and the United States Marshals Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicole E. Gorovsky.