Burnett County prosecutor faces felony charges for secretly recording sex with defendants

    Burnett County ADA Daniel Steffen faces three felony charges for secretly recording sex. (Polk County)

    A Burnett County Assistant District Attorney is facing three felony charges for secretly recording sex acts with women his office was in the process of prosecuting. 

    Daniel Steffen, 50, recorded himself having sex with two women in his Polk County home in 2018, according to the criminal complaint. On Friday, Steffen was charged in Polk County Court with three counts of capturing an intimate representation. He has been placed on administrative leave, a staff member of the Burnett County DA’s office confirmed.

    The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) began investigating Steffen after receiving a tip that he traded leniency in cases for sex acts, the complaint states, although he has not been charged for any criminal misuse of his power as a prosecutor. 

    The criminal complaint alleges that Steffen had sex with two women after he’d secretly set up an iPad in his bedroom to record them. One of the women, according to the complaint, was facing charges for violating a restraining order and met Steffen at a pretrial conference. He was the ADA in charge of handling her case. 

    The second woman told investigators she’d meet up with Steffen to have sex with him but did not know he’d been recording them. In one of the videos, according to the complaint, Steffen and the woman discuss how she can avoid facing criminal charges for hitting a mailbox. 

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    Steffen, who previously served as the elected DA in Polk County, has a previous criminal record. 

    In 2015, Steffen was arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated after he was pulled over and blew a 0.11 on a preliminary breath test. Steffen told police during that incident that he’d stopped for a couple drinks on the way to a district attorney’s conference. 

    Steffen was also found guilty after pleading no contest to a 2019 misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge in Dane County. In that case, Steffen was initially charged with misdemeanor theft after he and a woman attempted to be reimbursed for an extra night in a hotel he stayed in for a conference hosted by DOJ. 

    Steffen’s attorney Bruce Anderson declined to comment on the case. 

    The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General David Maas. St. Croix County Judge Scott Nordstrand is handling the case after both Polk County judges recused themselves because of Steffen’s previous employment as Polk County DA, according to the county’s clerk of courts office. 

    Steffen is scheduled to make his initial appearance Feb. 16 at 1:45 p.m.

    Henry Redman
    Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.