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Charges dismissed

Charges dismissed Charges dismissed

After more than 5 years felony charges against Steve Bowers dismissed

Felony charges against former Taylor County sheriff’s deputy Steve Bowers have been dismissed ending a saga that began more than six years ago.

Bowers was placed on paid administrative leave in February 2017 over the unauthorized release of unsolved case file information to a producer of a truecrime television program. At the time, Bowers was serving as a detective on the department and Bruce Daniels was sheriff and the county was working with the producers regarding a show on a different case.

In October 2017, the Wisconsin Department of Justice filed two felony misconduct in office charges against Bowers. In November of that year, the Taylor County personnel committee took action with a suspension and reduction in rank to patrol deputy.

The criminal charges against Bowers dragged on over the ensuing years with changes in judges, arguments and appeals over the admissibility of computer file evidence accessed with a warrantless search of an online file storage account maintained by Bowers. A trial in the case was delayed multiple times over these issues and others. On Tuesday, Judge Robert Russell issued an or- See CHARGES on page 4 der dismissing the charges against Bowers.

In the years since Bowers was first charged, former sheriff Bruce Daniels retired, the assistant attorney general who was prosecuting the case on behalf of the state went to work for the Dane County District Attorney’s office and Bowers’ own attorney was elected to be a judge.

“After 2,374 days, the nightmare is over. 2,374 days, that’s 6 years, 5 months and 30 days. As of today, the charges against me have been dismissed,” Bower said.

“So, after so long, what changed? Very simply, a new prosecutor was assigned to the case. An independent, neutral person looked at the case and saw that there was nothing there.

This shows that as I’ve said all along, former Sheriff Bruce Daniels, [District Attorney] Kristi Tlusty and former [Assistant Attorney General] Annie Jay colluded against me in an effort to discredit me and destroy my career. It was a personal attack, nothing more,” Bowers said.

“Of course, even though I won in the sense that the charges were dismissed, I still lost. I lost standing and respect in both the local community as well as in the law enforcement community. I lost friends and colleagues that distanced themselves from me. I lost money. And most of all I lost my career, a career I loved.”

“But even worse are all the other groups that lost. Taylor County lost an experienced officer with almost 30 years of training and institutional knowledge. Taylor County taxpayers lost untold hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages and benefits for an employee that wanted to work but wasn’t allowed to. Taylor County and state taxpayers lost untold tens of thousands of dollars investigating and prosecuting former Sheriff Bruce Daniels’ personal vendetta,” Bowers said.

Bowers had been on paid administrative leave from Taylor County from 2017 until May 2022 when he formally retired from the sheriff’s department during that time he received wages and benefits from the county.

Throughout the case, Bowers justified his sharing of the case information with the producers of the true crime show as a way to get leads and potential closure and justice for the victims on the unsolved cases.

“[T]he biggest losers of all are the victims’ families. Three victims and their families will never have justice due to this. Thank former Sheriff Bruce Daniels for that. He had tunnel vision. For whatever reason, he focused on me to the exclusion of everything else. I have no idea how he looks at himself in the mirror. He should be ashamed,” Bowers said.

The attorney general’s office was contacted for comment, but did not respond prior to press time.