Editor's Note: This article has been updated stating that Mr. Steffen will remain the ADA in Burnett County. That update is shown in bold in the article.
DANE COUNTY — Attorney Daniel P. Steffen, who has been employed as an Assistant District Attorney for Washburn and Burnett Counties, and as Polk County District Attorney before that, is facing misdemeanor charges of attempted theft in Dane County Wisconsin for allegedly fraudulently requesting reimbursement for mileage and a hotel room, according to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County, WI on October 9, 2019.
The criminal complaint states that Steffen submitted a voucher for reimbursement from the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Crime Victim Services for mileage and for the cost of a hotel room that Steffen claimed to have stayed in while attending a DOJ conference in the summer of 2018.
In August 2018 authorities with the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) investigated a report from the Wisconsin Office of Crime Victim Services into a questionable request for reimbursement that the Office of Crime Victim Services had received.
The Executive Director for the Office of Crime Victim Services advised DCI Special Agents that a request for reimbursement had been received from Assistant District Attorney Daniel P. Steffen regarding a DOJ conference that Steffen had attended in July 2018.
Steffen allegedly submitted vouchers for reimbursement regarding his mileage for the distance traveled from his residence to Madison where the conference was held and the cost of a hotel room for his stay while attending the DOJ conference in July 2018.
Concern was raised after the Office of Crime Victim Services received two vouchers for reimbursement that referenced the same hotel room. Steffan allegedly not only referenced the same hotel room as another reimbursement request, but he also requested reimbursement for 2 nights at the hotel when DOJ only allotted reimbursement for the night prior to the 1-day conference. Additionally, the dollar amount that Steffen requested was in excess of the dollar amount allowed by the DOJ.
Steffen was contacted regarding the discrepancies in his request for reimbursement, and he allegedly responded by providing a second set of reimbursement request forms, with an altered hotel room number and altered reimbursement dollar amount and blacking out the last 4 numbers of the credit card reference number.
Authorities went to the hotel in question and spoke with employees regarding registration records for the night of the DOJ conference. Employees of the hotel recalled registering Steffen in the hotel room number referenced on the first set of reimbursement request forms.
Special Agents interviewed Steffen regarding the request for reimbursement, and Steffen allegedly stated that although he had initially submitted the reimbursement requests as indicated, he then re-submitted the request after being advised of the DOJ’s reimbursement policies. Steffen went on to state that an acquaintance who was also attending the conference had registered a room for both of them, but that it was Steffen’s understanding that since the acquaintance was not eligible for reimbursement, Steffen would request the reimbursement.
DrydenWire.com reported on October 8, 2019, that Burnett County DA Schieffer was resigning due to personal issues. When contacted for the article, ADA Steffen stated to DrydenWire.com that he had accepted a position to be ADA in Polk County. When reached for comment, Polk County DA Jeffrey Kemp stated to DrydenWire.com that he rescinded his offer to Steffen on Monday.
“The Constitution I am sworn to uphold demands that a person is innocent until proven guilty, and I believe that,” said Kemp. “However at this time, Mr. Steffen will not be joining Polk county as a prosecutor.”
Mr. Steffen stated to DrydenWire.com on Tuesday that he will remain the ADA in Burnett County. Polk County ADA James Rennicke is currently the acting District Attorney in Burnett.
Steffen is facing a charge of Class A Misdemeanor Attempt Misdemeanor Theft - False Representation. If convicted of the charge as filed, Steffen faces a maximum sentence of 4.5 months confinement in jail, a fine of $5,000, or both. Online circuit court records indicate that Steffen is scheduled to have an initial appearance on his misdemeanor charges later this month.
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.