Marquette County off-duty deputy is charged in investigation

Marquette County Sheriff’s Office Deputy, Travis Bittelman, was arrested April 6th on charges relating to an ongoing investigation into allegations that the deputy was engaging in potentially inappropriate sexual behavior.

On Tuesday, April 5th, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office requesting their detectives to take over the criminal investigation.  Marquette County wanted an outside agency to complete a fair and impartial criminal investigation as it involved the off-duty jail deputy. It was reported to the department that Bittelman was involved in internet and social media activity where he was allegedly soliciting a minor for sexual activity.

The criminal complaint states that the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office had received a 911 call from an individual indicating that Bittelman was drinking, had a firearm, and was suicidal. Sheriff Joe Konrath reported the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office was aware of a video that was uploaded to YouTube claiming to show the off-duty defendant soliciting sexual activities. They contacted Columbia County requesting them to take over the case and advised Detective Sgt. Mark Smith that they had taken Bittelman into custody.

A criminal complaint filed April 8th listed two felony charges filed against Bittelman for Soliciting Intimate Representation from a Minor and Use of a Computer to Facilitate a Child Sex Crime.

The charges allege purported internet chats between a witness who had impersonated a 14-year-old boy and Bittelman. Det. Sgt. Smit reported identifying the witness and obtaining some of the chat logs that occurred between March 25th and 30th. Messages exchanged after that date until the witness reported confronting Bittelman on April 5th at a Westfield location had been deleted, according to the witness.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice-Division of Criminal Investigation assisted the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office with an external criminal investigation. The Marquette County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an internal investigation and policy review. Sheriff Konrath stated in an April 6th release that Bittelman’s employment with the Sheriff’s Office has been terminated.

Marquette County Circuit Court set a $25,000 signature bond for Bittelman on April 8th, calling for several conditions. Those include no possession of any firearms and surrendering of any firearms to the Sheriff’s Office, he is not to be on the premises of any bars, restrictions on contact with minors, no use of any device capable of accessing any internet activity or social media, maintaining absolute sobriety, and no controlled substances.

The Marquette County Sheriff’s Office asks anyone with information related to the case to call the Sheriff’s Office at 608-297-2115, or Marquette County Crime Stoppers at 800-297-8477(TIPS).