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Kenosha County Eye

Judge Schroeder: Steinbrink Records Are To Be Turned Over To Kenosha County Eye

Judge Bruce Schroeder (America’s Judge) in Court 12/6/2022
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Another day, another successful public records lawsuit from Kenosha County Eye.

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The disgraced former Village of Pleasant Prairie public works director John Steinbrink, Jr was charged with seven felonies related to corruption, enough to put him behind bars for decades. In the six-page criminal complaint filed last year he was formally charged with one count of theft – false representation between $10,000 and $100,000 and six counts of felony misconduct in public office – excess authority. The former carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, and the latter, 3.5 years each.

On July 27, 2022 KCE made a public records request to the Village of Pleasant Prairie for the Village’s investigation into allegations of misconduct by Steinbrink. The Village came to the legal conclusion that the Village must release these records and sent Jr. a letter notifying him of such. State law gives Jr. the legal right to ask a judge to block our access to these records.

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John Steinbrink Jr, filed suit on September 2, 2022 in Kenosha Circuit Court. Junior stated that the records are not public because they were created as part of an inconclusive employment investigation and the investigation is still ongoing. The public records law allows the government to withhold records pertaining to open investigations only if they can show that it will hinder the ongoing investigation. Junior also says the records should not be released because he “has not been convicted of any related crimes.”

KCE Editor, Kevin Mathewson motioned the court to intervene in the matter and become a party. The motion was approved. The matter was heard by the Honorable Bruce Schroeder in November.

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Today, Schroeder signed an order, dismissing Steinbrink Jr’s suit. The Village of Pleasant Prairie has 20 days to provide us with the records that Jr tried so hard and spent a lot of money to hide. Of course, we will share them with you next month.


  • Kevin Mathewson

    Kevin Mathewson is a disciple of Christ, husband and a father to two wonderful children. Mathewson was born and raised in Lake County, IL and worked as a police & fire dispatcher from 2005 to 2010 in Round Lake Beach, IL. Mathewson moved to Kenosha County in 2006, later being elected to the position of Alderman of the 8th District in 2012 and 2016. Mathewson is a private investigator, security contractor, journalist, and photographer. He enjoys spending time with his family, watching movies, camping and boating. His favorite amendment is the second, followed closely by the first. He loves his country and community.


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48 Responses

  1. Hurray! Thank you KCE for turning over the stones and shining the light so we can all see. These corrupt local governments should know that we are made as hell and are not going to take it anymore. This is a movement and the KCE is the tip of the spear.

    1. If I read it right, the village WAS going to turn over the records and Steinbrink,jr. sued to block it. Good win for Kevin!

  2. While people are looking for dirt, look at all the many positive things he and his family has and had done for our community. Their good will always be better than any bad in my eyes (And in many others) Praying for them ?

    1. If the Good is better than the bad in your eyes, you should go get them checked! This family has done nothing but lie, cheat, and steal their way to the top. All with facade of being a “good old fashion hard working American farm family”. Similar to a desert mirage. If anyone fell for that, shame on them. The only folks who truly think he and his family were any good, were only benefiting from them and their power in the community.

      1. It was their JOBS to do good things for the community that paid them. They aren’t allowed to break the law and then claim some kind of bonus points for balancing it out being competent elsewhere. Good job, Kevin, and good news? I believe according to a previous poster, in return you can go run a stop sign or push a loaded cart out of Woodman’s. ☺☺☺☺

      1. Awesome response about Epstein! ? You know those who don’t see any wrong doing are friends of Steinbrink or are crooks, just like him and the rest of the family!!

    2. I’m pretty sure the (and many others) could have been left out of your comment.

      As far as looking for dirt…its been in front of everyone and the PP employees for years. There was so much retaliation against people from both JR and SR towards those who didn’t do what they said. I remember one time jR took away all the parks people’s breaks because two guys were kicking a soccer ball during their break n the frontage road…not in anyone’s way. A police officer talked with them and then told JR. After that, nobody got a break. These kids were working in 95 degree weather and he didn’t allow them their breaks!!! Yeah, real nice guy!

      1. In response to PP HOMEOWNER: If the village does such a great job enforcing codes, what happened with the Haribo sign out by I94. The village has a sign code/ordinance 20 something pages long, no where in it does Haribos’ sign meet code/ordinance…

        If they can’t even follow a very specific sign code/ordinance, how good of a job are they doing with the rest of them?

        If it was my sign, I’m guessing they’d be all over me about it…

    3. Looking for dirt? More like exposing corruption. The Steinbrink family has been screwing the taxpayers for years and getting rich off our money. I’m
      hoping for jail time!!

    4. My guess is you are personally involved with unethical behavior and are trying to justify it by your own good acts. Nope. It doesn’t work that way. I hope you get caught too

    5. Stealing public money is not good. Having improvements done to your land on somebody else’s back is not good.
      So can you tell me the positives. Years ago it was also porta potties lol not kidding found at Junior’s house. Stolen.
      Could prove it because porta potties didn’t have a serial number.

    6. You must be one of the beneficiaries from their corrupt dealings over the last few decades, a relative of some sort or one of his similarly corrupt crony friends because no one in their right mind would think they have done any good without somewhat benefiting their pockets in some way!

  3. Jr is a pig. While in his position he screwed his secretary and was found in one of the village trucks doing so. I guess this is a positive that you are talking about. He treated his employees horrible. As any of them. People quit working for the Village and went to other municipalities for lower pay as he was such an asshole. He is an absolute pig and deserves to be in jail.

  4. Father and son should be arrested. Remember the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. They act all nice and innocent and a used a village as their own. I would see John Senior and Menards with many of those 11% rebates. Maybe they were the village people’s money.
    Mike polokoff that is still a trustee former village administrator is part of the corruption. I used to work for a developer. They would hold them hostage. Not for the benefit of the village and the people. The benefit of themselves. Side jobs on a clock.
    Follow the money

  5. The rest of the board of trustees putting their head in a sand. They’re acting like everything’s okay and doing nothing about what a continues to go on at the village. Some of them are part of the system obviously. The corruption. I think the attorney general’s office should investigate. As we know the DA of sweeping underneath the rug. He’s best friends with the family. He may recuse himself and then behind the scenes work on their behalf. DA Gravely please send it to the attorney general’s office.

  6. Great work as usual. Unfortunately, when Jr is convicted he will receive probation and collect a tax payer funded pension. Just the way it works

  7. The guy who should be on trial is Steinbrink Sr. When I lived in PP I pointed out that putting your son in that position set up a situation that would undoubtedly turn out badly. The hubris of John Sr. has resulted in his son perhaps ending up in prison. It is sad that John Sr. is getting a pass while his son pays the price for his inept management and graft. Sleep well at night John Sr. secure in the knowledge that you essentially set up a situation that would end in your son’s demise. Shame on you John Sr.!

  8. I’m just glad the village finally diversified, and allowed for some low income housing. Its about time they share the wealth that the surrounding areas have.

    1. LOL! Are you talking about those really nice apartments near the roundabouts on HWY H? Those look like some REALLY nice apartments! Hopefully they will stay nice but usually those kind of housing units get people in them that do not appreciate it and they go downhill. Sad really, but again, MAYBE they will stay nice.

  9. People in Pleasant Prairie are at fault themselves. They keep re-electing these people.
    Wake up P.P. start taking back YOUR government. Only 1 person is on the ballot in the upcoming election. ONLY 1! There are 3 positions open and I believe SR was one of them. Stop bitching and start participating or you’ll never clean up that crap hole.

    1. How many people voted for that referendum that came up last year for more money for the police and fire dept.? Nobody I know of in my area! And it passed ANYWAY! It doesn’t seem to matter how we vote in PP, it rarely makes a difference and when people have run against SR, he always won.
      I wish SOMEONE would have at least got on the ballot to run against him. If someone has a name out there that would like us to write in…PLEASE TELL US! Maybe, just maybe they will get in.

      1. That referendum was a tough sell. Inflated assessments can be a back door tax increase, too, and that happened to many people (us included). I back the badge and like our fire department, too, but I wasn’t sure that there was adequate planning and budgeting. Strong support for local policing but maybe there should have been a study of consolidation or better coordination of fire/EMS services countywide.

        The problem with Pleasant Prairie is that when you separate out the people or things you don’t like they still do a Hell of a lot better job than those goofballs and backstabbers at city hall and on the county board. If that means putting up with some things or peeps I may not like I’ll chew some Tums rather that wish for the shit show at city hall or the clowns on the county board who piss and moan but have no idea of their own and do a shitty job.

      2. It is not who you vote for that counts, it’s who counts the votes. Similar to the 3% tax hike Kenosha tax payers were force fed. Have yet to speak to anyone who voted for it.

  10. For all the brouhaha about alleged graft and corruption there’s scant evidence and Mr. Stenbrink, sr. is unopposed in April. If anyone has evidence of unlawful activity they should come forward just as the people did with Mr. Steinbrink, jr. (yet to be convicted). There the village police acted quickly to size up the allegations and the department head was suspended. According to the criminal complaint, it was village employees coming forward who blew the whistle. Good for them!

    The business about Mr. Steinbrink, jr.’s doing a good job is like saying your ex is a good guy because he’s paying his child support. That’s what he’s supposed to do. And the village did win awards. But that in no way gives anyone a green light to what they’re not supposed to do and one might argue that the award-winning good job provided cover for the shady stuff. Doing the good job you’re supposed to do is good but doesn’t excuse abusive or illegal behavior. I’m sure that when jr. finally resigned there must have been a going away part to which he wasn’t invited.

    I’d take with a huge grain of salt what developers gripe about. Pleasant Prairie is strict about enforcing codes. It wasn’t always that way. I remember seeing the same style of houses built in the old town and the city. Often the ones in the town were falling apart due to lax enforcement. We had to deal with the village when we built our home. The inspectors pointed out things that the builder needed to fix. Even to the point of following up months later if some electric outlets were properly working. The two words that came to mind for us were CONSUMER PROTECTION. We’re happy that Pleasant Prairie holds their feet to the fire and I know from working with developers that they often like to cut costs and corners and they’ll piss and moan when they are forced to dot every “i” and cross every “t” but as a taxpayer I am glad to see the money we pay for law enforcement go to good use.

    I’ll call a spade a spade. Do good and I’ll praise you. That’s only right. Don’t and I won’t. Not everything the village does is great. In the past couple of years the snow plowing and salting seems to have slipped. They talk about a lower tax rate but forget the extra bill for garbage collection. (The city recently adopted the same garbage and recycling methods Pleasant Prairie has used for years.) The Rec Plex is nice but where are comparable facilities for people on the other side of the village who also pay taxes? And what happened to the fire station that was going to be built in the Carol Beach area? And why is the new police station being built so far away from the bulk of the new development?

  11. Imagine the levels of corruption that could be uncovered in the village if investigators knew what rocks to overturn. Steinbrink Sr. needs to be charged and removed from his position as president too. He knew what was happening. Carole Wilke should also be charged. She thinks she can just resign and walk away untouched? She’s as corrupt as the rest of them and not just in this case!

    1. Fine. What specifically did he/they do that was against the law and what statutes specifically did he/they violate? Put up or shut up. Or do you want some cheese with your whine?

      Talk is cheap. If you don’t like Steinbrink, fine. Did you take out papers, get signatures and get on the ballot to oppose him? Nope. And so you allow the very pestilence you bemoan to perpetuate. You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem. If you have evidence, do what the employees who blew the whistle did: go to the police.

      I suspect that the poster above cheated on his taxes, cheated on his wife, sold arms and secrets to the Taliban and voted for Hillary. Do I have proof? No. But that’s just how easy it is to take cheap shots these days. And the village president’s job is mostly ceremonial in a place with a professional manager.

      Me? I want to hear from someone who can recite a vision for the future and what exactly they plan to do to make it happen. I don’t want to vote for some mindless blowhard asshat spewing diarrhea of the mouth who has rocks in their head and brains in their ass. We have enough of those politicians as it is.

  12. One of my neighbor’s daughters worked for PP 5+ (maybe closer to 10 years) years ago. She left for a new opportunity in her chosen career field, but I remember even a few years ago in which she’d complain about both SR and JR (and a few former Board Members) being pigs, sexually harassing her and another female staff member, and being total off-the-rails hotheads over the smallest of things too. Now that there’s some light shed onto their corruption and wicked ways (thanks Kevin!) I had hoped she would be willing to speak out but that appears to not be the case no matter how hard people (including myself) try.

    1. Matching the timeline I’d guess that at least two or three of the problem people are history. (More than that perhaps as one guy who was hired after that is also now gone.)

  13. If you don’t work at that shithole you don’t have a clue. Doesn’t matter what department, employees are treated like crap. Look at the turnover rate alone especially in public works. Jr is an asshole who treated his employees like absolute crap. If you don’t believe me go ask someone who works there for their perspective on how Jr mistreated them.

  14. In response to PP HOMEOWNER: If the village does such a great job enforcing codes, what happened with the Haribo sign out by I94. The village has a sign code/ordinance 20 something pages long, no where in it does Haribos’ sign meet code/ordinance…

    If they can’t even follow a very specific sign code/ordinance, how good of a job are they doing with the rest of them?

    If it was my sign, I’m guessing they’d be all over me about it…

  15. What measures are in place to ensure ALL the documents will be turned over? I think I can hear the paper shredders running right now in village hall and my fear is Kevin will get only documents that have scrutinized.

  16. Congratulations Kevin! Looking forward to next months article. The only thing cooler than this news is Jr’s sunglasses ?. He must still believe he’s a little boy and thinks if he is wearing sunglasses that we can’t see him.

    Well guess what Douche Bag, we all see you!

  17. The Steinbrinks have lied, cheated, and stolen from everyone. Sr. still sitting on the board is a complete joke. Jr. did nothing but pleasure himself and his pockets. He slept with multiple secretaries, and on two different occasions was caught red handed. Once having sex at a lift station and the other receiving head, during work hours of course while in his company vehicle. What a great role model and leader.

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