By Shereen Siewert

Amid objections by prosecutors, a Marathon County judge granted early release to a Ringle man who sought out and downloaded graphic images of children being sexually assaulted by adult men and women.

At least one image portrayed a child younger than four, according to the criminal complaint.

Michael Neuendank, 50, was sentenced Oct. 8, 2015 to 4 1/2 years in prison followed by 7 1/2 years extended supervision. In July, Neuendank submitted a petition for a sentence adjustment. The request was granted on Tuesday by Circuit Judge Greg Strasser.

Acting on a tip, special agents with the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation and the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department searched Neuendank’s home on Feb. 14, 2014 and seized a laptop after previewing the hard drive and observing several files consistent with child pornography. Neuendank was arrested at his place of employment and transported to the Marathon County Jail.

Court records show Neuendank admitted to police he had viewed and saved child pornography and began engaging in explicit chats online using both his laptop and his cell phone. During an interview, Neuendank said his habit had been getting worse over time and he would often spend hours online for those purposes.

On Feb. 14, 2014 prosecutors charged Neuendank with 11 counts of possessing child pornography. Seven of those charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement, and he was convicted in July 2015 of four counts with now-retired Circuit Judge Greg Grau presiding over the case.

Neuendank will remain on the Sex Offender Registry for life.