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Frazee man denies ordering hit on his wife

A Frazee man pleaded not guilty Thursday to accusations that he tried to hire a hit man to paralyze or kill his estranged wife.

David Wayne Steffen, 48, planned to pay the hit man - who was actually an undercover agent posing as a hit man - $5,500 to paralyze his wife and $12,000 "if she croaks."

Steffen's voice was barely audible as he pleaded not guilty to the Class B felony charge of soliciting B felony aggravated assault.

The charge stems from a series of taped conversations Steffen, 30702 Pleasant View Road, had with an undercover Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agent about having the agent assault his wife.

According to Cass County District Court documents:

The agent contacted Steffen in October posing as a hit man after Steffen asked a co-worker if he knew anyone he could hire to kill his estranged wife.

Over a series of recorded phone calls, Steffen told the agent what he wanted done to his wife and the two discussed prices and options.

The two agreed on $5,500 for the agent to assault his wife, with Steffen telling him on Oct. 31 to "put her in a walker or wheelchair ... I do not want her dead, I want her to live it and see it and feel it."

When the undercover agent asked what would happen money-wise if she died, Steffen said it did not matter.

"You set the price, anything that you want ... I have my preference ... something like buying a whore, you know, I would prefer a blonde but ... I'll take a brunette," he said on Nov. 15. "My preference would be to have her suffer dearly ... so that she can think about me every single day."

A price of $12,000 was agreed on if she were killed.

His wife has since filed for divorce.

Steffen, who was released from the Cass County Jail on $100,000 bond, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years and/or $10,000 if convicted.

His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 24.