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Tuesday, November 10, 2009                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor charged with stealing $50,000 from Habitat for Humanity

State police have accused Pastor David L. Heckman Jr. of embezzling more than $50,000 from a Christian organization that helps build homes for the poor.

Heckman took more than $50,000 in cash mortgage payments from homeowners who reside in homes built by Tioga County Habitat for Humanity, police said. He was a member of the board of directors and treasurer of the Tioga County chapter of the nonprofit.

Pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Newark Valley until his arrest Sunday, Heckman is also charged with making unauthorized purchases in excess of $1,500 that were charged to the church.

Charges include one count of second-degree grand larceny and one count of fourth-degree grand larceny, both felonies.

"Heckman is currently on leave of absence from the church and has been replaced as treasurer for Habitat for Humanity," police said.

New York State Police at Owego arrested Heckman, 27, who lives on Court Street in Binghamton. The Tioga County District Attorney's Office, Tioga County Habitat for Humanity and Heckman's church assisted in the investigation.

Following his arrest, Heckman was arraigned in Town of Owego Court and sent to the Tioga County Jail in lieu of $50,000 cash or $100,000 property bond. Late Thursday, he had yet to post bail.

The investigation into Heckman's activities is ongoing, police said. Anyone with additional information is asked to contact state police at (607) 687-3961.

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