SAWYER COUNTY -- The court has ordered a $10,000 cash bond for a 40-year-old man facing charges of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and attempted child sexual assault in Sawyer County following an undercover sex sting.
On April 3, 2022, a law enforcement officer was conducting an online investigation utilizing an undercover profile presenting themselves as a young female on a social networking app. The undercover profile received a message from a male user, later identified as Steven Loren Lofgren-Zappitello. A conversation ensued, and the criminal complaint filed against Lofgren-Zappitello alleges that he was informed that the online profile that he was communicating with was a 15-year-old female.
Lofgren-Zappitello allegedly sent a photo of himself in boxer shorts with his genitals clearly outlined and asked “do you like?” He discussed sexual acts that he and the female could engage in, and also sent multiple messages clarifying that if anyone found out she was under 18 he could go to jail until the female responded that if anyone asked she would state that she was 18. Lofgren-Zappitello told the female that he drives a small silver car and arrangements to meet the female at the LCO Country Store in Sawyer County later that night.
Law enforcement coordinated to have several officers in the vicinity at the arranged meeting point and time. The undercover officer received another message indicating that Lofgren-Zappitello would be able to meet them around 11:45 - 12:30a. A small silver car was seen driving into the area of the meeting point and the officer received a message from Lofgren-Zappitello asking “are you here?”
Law enforcement vehicles converged around Lofgren-Zappitello’s vehicle, and officers instructed him to stop his vehicle and exit it. Lofgren-Zappitello was taken into custody. The criminal complaint filed against Lofgren-Zappitello states that he waived his Miranda rights, and wished to be interviewed without an attorney present.
Lofgren-Zappitello was shown printed copies of the conversations that he had with the undercover officer, and he confirmed that he was the one who sent the messages. When asked what he planned to do with the underage female, Lofgren-Zappitello initially just said that his plan was to meet up with her and see what happens.
The criminal complaint goes on to state that, Lofgren-Zappitello did later state that he had the intent to attempt to have sexual relations with the underage girl. When asked if he was there with intent to kidnap children, or to have sex with an underage child, Lofgren-Zappitello stated that he was a married man cheating on his wife with an underage girl.
Lofgren-Zappitello is charged with Class C Felony Use of a Computer to Facilitate a Child Sex Crime and Class C Felony Attempt Sexual Assault of a Child. Online circuit court records show that Lofgren-Zappitello appeared for a bond hearing on April 4, 2022, and the Hon. John Yackel ordered a $10,000 cash bond with conditions that he is prohibited from having any contact with any juveniles under the age of 17.
Lofgren-Zappitello appeared most recently on April 20, 2022, for an initial appearance hearing and he is set to appear again on April 29, 2022, for a preliminary examination hearing.
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Pursuant to the direction of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, as found in Supreme Court Rule 20:3.6, Trial Publicly, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.