After dodging our calls, emails, voicemails and text messages for days, our stories shook up the Village of Pleasant Prairie. The taxpayers demanded answers and today we got new information. According to a Village of Pleasant Prairie spokesman, Steven Linn, “The Village of Pleasant Prairie has placed a [Department of Public Works] employee on administrative leave pending an investigation into the employee’s work for the Village. In the interest of complete transparency, we have asked an outside agency – the Racine County Sheriff’s Office – to conduct that investigation. “
While Linn wouldn’t tell KCE the name, we can confirm the employee that is under investigation is the son of President John Steinbrink, Sr. John Steinbrink, Jr is the director of the Village’s department of Public Works. Over the years, claims of nepotism have gone ignored by the village board and village administration. Current Village Administrator Nathan Thiel was hired in 2018 and the board chose not to renew his contract that is up in two weeks, leading to speculation that this might be related to the criminal investigation.
Steinbrink, Jr deactivated his Facebook page and Steinbrink, Sr has had his home phone off the hook for at least two days and is ignoring calls to his cell phone.
Racine County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Michael Luell confirmed Friday to KCE that there is, in fact an active criminal investigation into allegations at the Village of Pleasant Prairie. Luell could not release any details but did tell us “I will do my best to update the public when the time is appropriate.”
Among the several criminal allegations being made is that Steinbrink, Jr took possession of expensive village equipment, buying it from the village at far less than market value. KCE has also been made aware of allegations that Steinbrink Jr had village staff help finish the concrete around his in-the-ground swimming pool, had his driveway re-paved when the road in front of his house was repaired, authorized the continued paychecks for an employee that hasn’t worked for the village in a long time, and diverted Menards rebates to his home instead of the village to the tune of some $3,200. While these accusations come from sources close to Village Hall, KCE cannot confirm them independently.
When the investigation is concluded it will be up to a prosecutor to determine what, if any charges will be brought against Steinbrink, Jr and anyone else involved. It should be Kenosha DA Michael Graveley to make that decision, but it is believed that he has passed the buck to progressive DA Patricia Hansen in Racine. Graveley frequently recuses himself on high-profile cases. Hansen is where cases against public corruption “go to die.” Hansen refused to charge two City officials with felonies after the years-long IT scandal investigation. She let a Kenosha Firefighter off from sexual assault allegations and domestic violence charges. She let a Kenosha Police Officer off from felony child-abuse charges. Both prosecutors refused to answer questions from KCE.