JEFFERSON — The trial of a former Jefferson police officer accused of misconduct in public office had been delayed after attorneys for both sides signaled that a resolution could be forthcoming.
Daniel R. Johnson, 43, Fort Atkinson, faces two charges of misconduct in public office after he was accused last year of trading confidential police information for sexual favors. If convicted, he faces a combined maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment and a $20,000 fine.
In two requests for a continuance, filed jointly Jan. 10 and 14 by state Assistant Attorney General Devra Ayala and defense attorney Paul Bucher, it was suggested that a deal will be worked out before a jury trial is necessary. The requests were sent to Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge William Gruber days before the case was set for a final status conference Jan. 17 and a jury trial scheduled for Jan. 23-24.
“The parties are actively working toward the resolution of this case short of trial,” Ayala wrote in the request. “However, to reach that resolution, the parties will need more time to ensure a successful resolution. The parties do not expect this case to go to trial.”
The initial request Ayala filed was denied by Gruber. In a note to the attorneys, Gruber said Ayala and Bucher could bring up the request to delay the trial at last week’s planned status conference.
But Ayala sent a second request, asking Gruber to reconsider as the two sides continue investigation and review of discovery in the case. Ayala added that two of the state’s witnesses were unavailable for the scheduled week of trial, with one to be on vacation and the other having moved out of state.
The second request was granted by Gruber and the trial was moved to March.
"We're working diligently toward a resolution that is adequate for both sides," Bucher said. "We just needed a little more time."
Johnson was charged in March 2019 after an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice found a 25-year-old woman gave him oral sex in exchange for confidential information from Jefferson County Child Protective Services, according to the criminal complaint.
These sexual encounters allegedly occurred in Johnson’s squad car while he was on duty — including once in the parking lot of the Jefferson Piggly Wiggly — and still were ongoing as the DOJ investigation circled around him.
Johnson had been with the Jefferson police force since 2003 before resigning in Sept. 2018 in the wake of the state investigation.
In the separation agreement between Johnson, the Jefferson Police Department, the City of Jefferson and the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, the parties agreed to allow Johnson to “resign in lieu of termination.”
The conditions of the agreement, obtained by the Daily Union through a public records request, included the cessation of Johnson’s salary and the payout of his unused paid time off, as well as Jefferson Police Chief Ken Pileggi’s agreement not to file disciplinary charges against Johnson.
The city and Johnson also agreed not to “publicize, comment on, or otherwise disclose the terms and underlying facts,” of Johnson’s resignation.
A final status conference in Johnson’s case has been scheduled for March 13.
Ayala did not respond to a request for comment by presstime.