MADISON, WIS. – Timothy M. O’Shea, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that on April 22, Steven Sorensen, 43, Eau Claire, Wisconsin pleaded guilty and was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson to 34 months in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
On March 5, 2021, Sorensen stole a car and found a handgun in the driver’s door pocket. He took the gun from the car and, as police were investigating and arrested his girlfriend, he hid the gun on a shelf in Goodwill store in Eau Claire. Sorensen was arrested and the keys to the stolen car were in his pocket. He initially denied knowing anything about a gun, but later showed officers where he left it. Police found the gun laying on the bottom shelf behind an electronic item and noted that there were many people and children in the store. Sorensen had previously been convicted in 2015 of forgery and felony bail jumping. He was also on probation at the time of the federal offense.
At sentencing, Judge Peterson said that he had a hard time accepting Sorensen’s story that he was trying to turn the gun over to someone in the Goodwill for safekeeping. Judge Peterson called Sorensen an out-of-control methamphetamine addict and observed that the state system had exhausted its resources trying to get him to address his addiction. Judge Peterson also noted Sorensen’s lengthy criminal history and said that until he was able to deal with his drug addiction, he would be a menace to society. Sorensen was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release.
The charge against Sorensen was the result of an investigation conducted by Eau Claire Police Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Stephan.
This case has been brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the U.S. Justice Department’s program to reduce violent crime. The PSN approach emphasizes coordination between state and federal prosecutors and all levels of law enforcement to address gun crime, especially felons illegally possessing firearms and ammunition and violent and drug crimes that involve the use of firearms.