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Defense attorney accused of supplying items to an inmate

By: Eric Heisig//January 15, 2014//

Defense attorney accused of supplying items to an inmate

By: Eric Heisig//January 15, 2014//

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A Madison criminal defense attorney is accused of illegally passing items to an inmate he was visiting in a Portage prison.

Columbia County sheriff’s Lt. Roger Brandner said Steven Cohen, 44, passed two toothbrushes, a container of red pepper powder and jelly doughnuts to the inmate in the Columbia Correctional Center. The prison’s staff was able to take the items from the inmate – whom Brandner declined to identify – before the inmate walked back to the rest of the prisoners.

“[The guards noticed] something wasn’t right during the meeting,” Brandner said. “They intervened right away found the items on the inmate right after the meeting.”

The incident occurred in October, Brandner said, though Cohen was arrested Monday after handling a case in the county’s courthouse.

Cohen was booked into the county’s jail on a felony charge of delivery of articles to an inmate. He was released on a signature bond, Brandner said.

Columbia County District Attorney Jane Kohlway said Wednesday that Cohen has not yet been formally charged. She also said that Vilas County District Attorney Al Moustakis will handle the prosecution in the case as to not appear that any advantage is being given to the attorney in question.

Cohen is a solo practitioner who also practices immigration and family law. He was admitted to the State Bar in 1996 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Reached Wednesday morning, Cohen said he “can’t say anything about” his arrest and the case. He said he has not hired an attorney to handle his defense.

Brandner said a detective tried to reach out to Cohen several times, though Cohen responded by saying that “he didn’t want to talk.” He said he wasn’t sure if the inmate was Cohen’s client or if they were meeting for other business.

The inmate will not be criminally charged, Brandner said, and he is cooperating with investigators.

Cohen has no public disciplinary history from the Office of Lawyer Regulation.

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