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No Felony Charges For Disgraced Former Pleasant Prairie Public Works Director John Steinbrink, Jr: Racine DA

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John Steinbrink, Jr – Disgraced Former Pleasant Prairie Public Works
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

What started out as a public corruption case with seven felonies, is now a misdemeanor case. What could have been a 31-year prison sentence, will now result in absolutely no jail time – just probation and some court fees. All this, due to Racine County District Attorney Patricia Hanson and her Deputy, Christopher Steenrod. They were asked to prosecute the case by Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley (D) who passes cases off to other DA’s to avoid political pressure and because he knows that they are likely to be treated very weakly.

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Patricia Hanson (D) and Christopher Steenrod (D) Racine County District Attorney And Deputy District Attorney, Respectively (Facebook)

This morning, a document in the case bearing Hanson’s name, lists three lone misdemeanor counts of “Attempted Misconduct In Public Office – Excess Authority.” Each carries with it a maximum sentence of $10,000 in fines and/or 9 months in jail. All six remaining felonies will be dismissed. One of the original seven felony counts was dismissed immediately because Steenrod slopily wrote the charging document.

John Steinbrink, Sr (D) – Village President, Village of Pleasant Prairie

Many in the community thought that Steinbrink Jr’s father, John Steinbrink Sr, would pull some strings and get the charges dropped or severely reduced. They may be right. Steinbrink, Sr is the Village President of Pleasant Prairie, where Steinbrink, Jr was employed for years, and then fired.

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Although Patricia Hanson and her second-in-command Chris Steenrod authored the plea deal, the name on the sheet of the prosecutor that will likely be in court tomorrow is Donald Conner. He was just recently assigned the case. Many believe that this was done to take the heat of of Hanson and Steenrod, who are considering runs for Racine County Judge and Racine County DA, respectively.

KCE reached out to to Hanson, Steenrod, and Conner for comment. They didn’t respond.

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Anthony Milisauskas – Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Judge Anthony Milisauskas, who is overseeing this case, has the power to reject this over-generous and seemingly political plea deal, but probably won’t – and it’s not unusual. Under the deal, Steinbrink will spend two years on probation. Retired Judge Schroeder is the only Judge that has ever rejected a plea deal in recent history according to several defense attorneys consulted by KCE.

Michael Graveley (D) – Kenosha County District Attorney
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County District Attorney)

KCE reached Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley (D) by phone today, who first learned of the plea deal from us. Graveley reiterated that he sent the case to Racine County because of his long-term professional and personal relationship with Steinbrink. Sr. “I don’t believe that I’ve ever met Jr.” said Graveley.

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Prominent Members Of The Community Send Letter To Judge In Support Of Steinbrink

In a court filing, seven prominent members of the community sent letter in support of Steinbring and seemingly in support of his conduct:

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_____________________________________________________________________

Mike Serpe (D) – Former Kenosha Assistant Police Chief and Former Pleasant Prairie Trustee

“I never in thirty-one years felt the need to questions John’s honesty and integrity. I strongly feel the Village lost a valuable employee when John left his employment.”

_____________________________________________________________________

Mike Pollocoff (D)- Pleasant Prairie Trustee and Former Village Administrator

“Our community prospered and became a better place to live because of his kind heartedness and endless work.”

_____________________________________________________________________

Raymond Merlin – (Gateway Technical College) Executive Director Of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association

“I am also a Pleasant Prairie resident and have seen the work [John] has done in the village to help improve the village, and will always be willing to answer any questions or give the information on what department to contact to help answer my questions. I look forward to seeing and working with John on other volunteer ventures as I noticed a commitment to the community friends and family.”

_____________________________________________________________________

Roberta Puntillo (D) – Attorney and Partner, Puntillo,Camilla & Hughes, SC (Law Firm Who Handles Pleasant Prairie’s Legal Affairs. 100’s of thousands earned from Village. )

“Over the years, John has become a close friend to my husband and me. He has huge and generous heat. John is that person you can count on – that friend who will help you whenever you need. He is humble, kind, and loyal. John works tirelessly, and I am often amazed at how long his days are. John genuinely cares for others, as evidenced by his many friends and great relationships. I continually see in his his strong work ethic, devotion to his family and friends, and desire to help make the community better. People like John are rare, and I am hopeful that his goodness his considered.”

_____________________________________________________________________

Mike Zacker – Owner Cove Realty, Childhood Friend, and Godfather to Steinbrink Jr’s Son

“During [John’s] tenure as the director of Public Works of Pleasant Prairie I saw my friend relish in his role. He took great pride and going to work everyday. He would very often be the first one there and the last one to leave. He, put the village and its needs above the needs of himself on numerous occasions. His sacrifice, time and efforts and energies were always unwavering he truly lived for his job The old adage of if you want to get something done give it to the busiest person you know was written for John. Outside of work you’d be hard pressed to find an individual who would give back more to his community than John whether it was financial contribution to a charity or an incand donation that was required his time and/or expertise as an engineer John was always the first one to volunteer to pitch in to make her community a better place he has an abundance of energy passion both physical and emotional energy that cannot be duplicated.”

_____________________________________________________________________

Mickey Day – Owner of Construction Company (DK Contractors) Given Public Bids By Pleasant Prairie

“I can attest to John’s character and strong commitment to help not only his family but the community.”

_____________________________________________________________________

Jesse Houle – Went To College With Steinbrink, Steinbrink Hired Him To Work For Village

“[John] is a great leader. I had the pleasure of working for him and learning from him while I compiled a construction management team for the Village.”

_____________________________________________________________________

Complaint

“You don’t disagree with Steinbrink, Jr. If you do, you’re going to be out of a job” said one of the employee whistleblowers in the Pleasant Prairie corruption investigation to an investigator with the Racine County Sheriff’s Office.

The disgraced former Village of Pleasant Prairie public works director was charged on July 19, 2022 with seven felonies related to corruption, enough to put him behind bars for decades. In the six-page criminal complaint filed in July of 2022, Steinbrink, Jr 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 April 4, 2022, Captain Ollila of the Pleasant Prairie Police Department was approached by a former public works employee who blew the whistle on Steinbrink, Jr for years of alleged misconduct. Police Chief Dave Smetana became aware and decided with the Captain and Village Administration to forward the investigation to the Racine County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) due to a conflict of interest. RCSO then conducted a multi-month investigation. Thiel was soon-thereafter fired.

According to the criminal complaint it is alleged:

Dump Truck Purchased by Steinbrink, Jr Repaired With Village Funds

Steinbrink, Jr purchased a Village Dump Truck, a 2000 Ford Sterling L8500, for $14,500. He then ordered Village staff to repair it, spending thousands on new tires and brakes. The repairs were logged in the Department of Public Works electronic records system.

Wood Chipper

Steinbrink, Jr asked his father and other Village officials to purchase a brand new wood chipper, saying the two they had were old and broke down often. One was built in 1993 and the other, in 2005. The board, including his father, ostensibly approved the budget item and the Village got a brand new chipper. Steinbrink, Jr worked out a deal with JJ Kane Auctions where he would buy the 2005 chipper for $2,000. He ordered village staff to repair it, with new blades, chains, and other components. His live-in girlfriend, Andra Jacobsen, bought the chipper with a credit card on 2/4/2022. It is unknown if Jacobsen will be charged. Steinbrink, Jr owns a tree-trimming business. Steinbrink, Jr told police “I’ll tell you what, bad call on my part there…”

Bain Station Road Paving Project

In 2020, there was a road improvement project at the corner of Bain Station Road and 85th St. The cost was estimated to be $206,348.62 but only cost $115,888. Steinbrink, Jr ordered the leftover to be placed in the Village’s coffers instead of being refunded back to the developer who put the money up, depriving them of approximately $90,300. Also, there was a gate and culverts installed on his family property that were owned by the Village. His father, the Village President John Steinbrink, Sr benefited from this as well.

Concrete Work at Steinbrink, Jr’s Residence

Steinbrink, Jr ordered staff to hide their trucks behind his pole barn and help pour concrete in his backyard for his in-the-ground pool while on duty being paid by the Village.

Forged Documents

Steinbrink, Jr didn’t complete compost temperature checks for the Wisconsin DNR for two years. A DNR employee was coming the next day, so Steinbrink, Jr ordered staff to forge signatures.

Illegal Abandonment Of Laddish Well

Steinbrink, Jr ordered staff to abandon a well illegally, saying “no matter what, get it done.” This was contrary to regulation.

“Employees were asked about what it was like to work for Steinbrink Jr. SS stated that Steinbrink Jr had never been angry towards him; however, he described Steinbrink Jr generally as an angry, narcissistic and manipulating person. SS explained that when he started to work at DPW he was told to do his job, ‘keep his nose down’ and do what he is told to do even if it is the wrong thing. Inv Sharrett (RCSO) learned that employees feared losing their jobs if they did not do as Steinbrink Jr instructed. Another employee, MT stated that employees worked in fear while Steinbrink Jr was in charge of DPW and described work environment as being happier since Steinbrink Jr had left the department.”

This is a breaking and developing story and will be updated throughout the day.

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125 Responses

  1. Pretty much as expected. Three misdemeanors, however, sets him up to be a “repeater” (habitual criminal) if he is convicted of a crime in the next five years. Did he make full restitution up front? That’s usually a condition for a plea bargain like this.

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  2. Ridiculous and just shows you how deep this corruption runs!
    Pleasant Prairie voted incorrectly in April.
    This

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    1. I believe the elections are still rigged. Look at the kusd school board for an example…. Plus the dirty Soros money that most likely bought their seats. 1 day, on paper, hand count or we will keep getting screwed!

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    1. That’s giving him too much credit because did you really think that Racine County with all of its crime was going to care about something from Here

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  3. Waste of taxpayers money alert, Visit Pleasant Prairie office is renting space at The Gratzi office on 75th St. with all the offices and space they have they can’t find room for 1-2 people to work in Prairie buildings? Another waste of money, watch your taxes go up soon!

  4. When you wonder why Government Officials, Teachers, Repeat Gun Felons and all other sort of criminals are not in jail, look no further than the most important office in the County, the District Attorney !!!!!

    Look at every story here on KCE that has a person who should be in jail who’s not in jail.
    It’s the District Attorney (DA) who made the decision to reduce the charges or not charge at all.

    This November you must vote for the person that’s not a Democrat !!!!!

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    1. Sure you would like to say that the District Attorneys office isn’t (or shouldn’t) be political, but is that reality ??
      The decisions to be aggressive or lenient are rooted in internal philosophy. And by extension so follows the political affiliation.
      It’s obvious that our current DA is of one party.
      And this is what you get.
      So maybe next November we give the other side a chance ??

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      1. The Kenosha District Attorney’s Office is very political. Look at all of the cases that have not been prosecuted or sent to other counties. All of their Democrat friends. I am NOT voting for Graveley’s hand picked assistant. It is time to change that office. you know where my vote and support is going.

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  5. I was holding my breath that the Steinbrinks would finally get punished for decades of insider trading, stealing, and corruption, but alas, they once again skirt the law. It is sickening….only hope is karma will get him and the entire Steinbrink family, just like OJ got his karma! I bet Sr and Pollocoff are laughing all the way to the bank on this one.

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    1. Unfortunately there is no accountability here. The district attorney passed it off to another county and so therefore that district attorney is not answerable to the people of this county at the ballot box. Nobody ran against the village president. The only hope is that people will let the judge know at the sentencing on Friday morning how they feel. At least the judge is accountable to the people of Kenosha county.

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  6. For all the pissing and moaning nobody has said squat about what could be done in this situation. This case is on the Calendar at 830 Friday morning. People can show up in the courtroom and can write letters to the judge and deliver them at that time. Even with the plea agreement there is still the possibility of up to 27 months confinement and up to $30000 in fines. The judge can limit who he allows to speak in the courtroom but you can write letters and deliver them to the court.

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    1. I’m sure everyone has waaay too many VACATIONS to go on to actually put in any effort into anything like that.
      Just like usual.
      It’s why things are the way they are.

  7. This is a slap in the face to all those employees that were terminated by Steinbrink for his petty bullshit and for those who came forward while working for this bastard.

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  8. Even under the plea agreement the judge could still find him $30000 and put him in jail for up to 27 months. If you put on probation The Judge can order up to a year in the county jail as a condition of probation. At this point all eyes are on the judge.

    1. And that’s just what the judge did. Sentences withheld (he could impose up to 27 months if probation revoked), probation for two years with one year jail and $30K fines.

  9. The incestuous generational corruption in Kenosha county continues because Kenosha citizens allow it to continue.

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    1. Not surprising. Judges get “fan mail” all the time but the letters that get the most attention are those that say something substantive about the defendant or the crime. People who aren’t happy about this should write the judge, too.

      1. Martin Luther King, jr. said that there is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best. Several of these letters point out good things that jr. did but they cannot and should not excuse his misconduct. If anything, he should know better. The letters from Serpe, Pollocoff and Puntillo are the most irritating. Serpe chairs the village plan commission and Pollocoff is a current village trustee and former village administrator. They should be outraged. Yes, they can truthfully disclose good things the defendant has done but none of these letters shows any insight into his misconduct. They didn’t gloss it over but rather ignored it (which may have been part of the problem). Puntillo is an interesting case. She was on the Iverson for Judge campaign and is also connected to Gabriele and the “network.” We tried and tried and tried to warn people about this but they wouldn’t listen.

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    2. Not surprised- they have connections and people to show them how to play the game, and *try* to make it look legit. Remember, Jr’s cousin had a kid with Allen Kiehls son and coincidentally when the Kiel trouble came along, (Sheriff who took bribes from Troha family among other highly illegal acts ) he pleaded out and got a slap. That was alll Steinbrink & his chronies helping another out. Anyone else would get 15 years. All this scandal confirms that It pays to have connections and money. Only hope is he pays his “dues” in another way….even tho I’d love to see that arrogant ass behind bars.

  10. Unfortunately this was what I expected so I’m not surprised and the BS leniency. No one is held accountable who has power, and corruption is not punished very often. Thanks for absolutely nothing Racine County DA’s office.

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    1. Hold on a minute. I just took another look at the plea agreement. The prosecutor CAN recommend up to one year confinement as a condition of probation. He can also recommend up to $30,000 in fines, community service and any other appropriate conditions of probation. The judge is not required to follow the plea agreement.

      So — bottom line —

      1) What will the prosecutor recommend?
      2) What will the judge do?
      3) What input will the public have? — Write those letters to the court. The judge’s E-mail is anthony.milisauskas@wicourts.gov.

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  11. What a f’n joke!!! Such an embarrassment to our community. I love that several letters came in support for Joke Steinbrink. Most of those letters were written by others who knew of his corruption and fully supported it because they were benefiting from it.

    1. They can say whatever they want about him (false information about his credibility) because they are not under oath. Just pathetic

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  12. Such credible individuals writing these supportive letters:

    Mike Serpe = Village Clown
    Mike Pollocoff = Corrupt Clown
    Roberta Puntillo = Legal Clown
    Jesse Houle = Engineering Clown

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  13. Kevin, hopefully you’ll be at the sentencing to report on what happens. Doubt Kenosha News will.

  14. I am appalled that Mike Polllocoff, Mike Serpe and Mickey Day, all who act as representatives of the Village support Junior, who fraudulently stole assets including money, time and property. They are suppose to represent the PEOPLE not this arrogant ass. Juniors “engineering degree” was paid for BY THE TAXPAYERS and he went to school during the workday. Please vote those hypocrites out of office.

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    1. Pollocoff was just re-elected. Serpe and Day are appointees.

      Imagine how the honest, hardworking village employees must feel. What kind of message does this send?

    2. The people of the village had a chance to vote Pollokoff out of office and they welcomed him back in, even though there was a decent man running against him.
      You get what you vote for-so suck it!

  15. Jr is a pompous full of himself asshole. Just remember everyone involved here is a democrat and therefore gets special treatment.

    14
  16. What are Hansens and the other idiots email addresses? Happy to write a letter that as a resident of Racine county, I will actively help campaign against them, and not vote for them

  17. Where is the prosecuting attorney and why isn’t he advocating for letters of facts of what happened? Letters in support of Juniors TRUE arrogant and above the law behavior and character? Where is Kathy Goessl, Finance Director advocating for a sentence to set a standard for all employees that theft and fraud isn’t tolerated with taxpayer dollars? Thiel can’t talk, they forced him to sign a non disclosure agreement. VPP BOARD MEMBERS, Pollocoff and Serpe should NEVER have supported him publicly as a “character witness” , how is this representing the village residents, huge conflict of interest!! Isn’t that their role to represent taxpayers? But then again they’ve let Steinbrink steal for decades so it’s a continous cover up. Where is Klimisch, Kedrow and Kremer?? Why aren’t THEY DEMANDING restitution and punishment for a former employee who stole from taxpayers? Nope, just another BS cover up, lining their pockets and increasing taxes. Funny how this all came out AFTER the election….NO coincidence there..

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  18. Just watch, after this hand slap, Junior will sue the Village for lost wages and reinstatement of his job….while he really should be sentenced to jail and losing his taxpayer funded Wisconsin Retirement System funded pension. It will be rubber stamped by daddy, uncle Pollocoff and grand pappy Klimisch to “save taxpayers” from another legal battle. What a bunch of ass handlers on the board! Can we find someone with a set of balls to take on this board and clean house?

    1. Pollocoff was the village administrator who hired and supervised jr. He is now a member of the village board. By almost all accounts John jr, did a competent job but this isn’t about how good of a job the village did plowing snow. We expect him to do a dood job. But he also was a jerk as a boss, broke the law and used his employment for personal gain. Pollocoff and Serpe, a former board member, should be outraged that they were betrayed by someone in whom they placed trust. Instead, they appear to be defending the defendant without showing any appreciation for what he did wrong and how his actions hurt the village and other village employees. I’m not so sure Pollocoff would have been reelected last month if this letter was available then. As a village trustee I would have expected Pollocoff to be on the side of the village, not the defendant.

      1. Serpe was confronted by village employees about Jrs. corruption and ill hated management techniques. He did nothing. Shrugged his shoulders and said “what do you expect me to do about it”

      2. Why would Polloncoff still be on village board at his age if he was not there to cover his ass and get richer?

        1. Because pollocoff is the brains behind the situation. Steinbrink is the money backer for the land deals. Pollocoff gets kick backs by doing all the legalities for him

    2. There was a challenger to pollokoff but he fell short of votes. The people of Pleasant Prairie are obviously either idiots or lemmings.

  19. This dude has ruined countless marriages in kenosha, tons of affairs. Even in city trucks and on the clock. Ask me how i know lol. And hes a felon. Buuuuuut daddy saved the day. Do bettee kenosha.

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  20. JR sent dick pics to my 17 year old daughter. We called the police. Two officers showed up with his Dad and punched me in the stomach. Steinbrink SR ate the dinner i made while the cops made me watch. Then they emptied my bank account and left.

    Pretty much a true story.

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  21. Wow wow wow. Hell with taxpayers and the employees. You call this justice. The people that wrote letters in his favor “really”. Shame on them. The poor employees that put there livelihood to help the taxpayers. I’m glad I don’t live in Pleasant Prairie.
    Boy more I read. The more I hear from people that live there how corrupt it is. I hope and pray that the judge protects the people.
    2-year probation and just misdemeanors wow. What kind of message does a send to the community. What kind of message does it send to the employees. It’s in your hands judge.

  22. Mike Zacker. “First one there and last to leave” ? You didn’t work there! How would you know. Oh, cause John told you that? Yeah I’m sure that’s the truth then.

    1. Definitely not true. He left at noon every Friday, at least! He probably spent a lot of those “busy” afternoons having a liquid lunch with Mike Zacker.

  23. All the efforts of the 3 men breaking ground to get this to the table and standing up for the tax payers and their employees saying enough is enough. It is a complete disgust that all our efforts to do what is right for everyone in Pleasent Prarrie are going to waste. You guys weren’t in village hall the day we brought this to Nathen hearing how John was swarming because someone called him and said hey theirs three of your guys in an office with Nathen while he literally chased us down the road after leaving. I am asking that you Stand up and please write those letters to the judge as he is our only hope now. As you see Pleasent Prarrie isn’t even pushing anything does that it’s self tell you how corrupt the village is and the ones who run it ? I meant come on Pleasent Prarrie. With all do respect to the taxpayers of Pleasent Prarrie you guys are what you allow. Had we not stood up John would still be there doing what ever he wanted and treating all the employees like they are worthless and telling the tax payers what they want to hear because your his income don’t you people see this?

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  24. I’ll see any letters from employees that worked for him past or present.
    Email the judge.
    People Pleasant Prairie this time to stand up for this corruption.

  25. I’ve never seen any article that has more comments against the decision on KCE.
    I hope the judge will do the right thing.

  26. I have lost all respect for Ray Merlin. Just because you live in the Village and Jr was helpful doesn’t mean that he didn’t do what the criminal complaint said he did. I would think taking over Ileeta and being a cop you would under stand evidence. Maybe attend a class at your conference. So many people lost their jobs, insurance and benefits because of Johns pettiness. But by all means send a letter of support to a judge because he directed you to the correct people to speak to in the Village. That’s just awesome Ray. You are part of the problem.

    1. There is nothing wrong with writing a truthful letter on behalf of someone. What’s wrong with the ones here is a total lack of recognition that he did wrong. Yes, he’s done some good things but that does not wipe away the rest. Pollocoff’s is especially upsetting because he is a village trustee and should be upset, too, at someone who betrayed his own trust as well as duty jr. owed to the public. As a trustee Pollocoff should have the village’s interests first.

      1. Polloncoff is as guilty as Steinbrink he heard the stories but he rode daddy’s wallet and turned a blind eye.
        Why would a 75 and 70 old still want to be on the village board other than keep the money flowing?

        1. I agree in part but there are many retired people who use their time to be of service. To that extent your remarks are a bit insulting.

  27. Racine residents need to pay attention and send a message to Pat Hansen that we won’t tolerate this corruption.

    She turned a blind eye with Sheriff Shchmaling brought her obvious voter fraud. She needs to go.

  28. Imagine that Another one gets away with it, Patricia Hanson is something else, this is not the first time she allowed this. She had sent people to prison for alot less
    on false /fake/ charges. this is insane, this guy and family has gotten away with things in pleasant prairie for years. This is a disgrace to are community and are honest public leaders.

  29. I called this months ago. Just wait until he tries to pay the fines with Menards rebates.

  30. BREAKING NEWS: JUDGE SLAMS HIM — PUTS STEINBRINK, JR ON PROBATION FOR TWO YEARS WITH ONE YEAR IN THE COUNTY JAIL AND $30,000 IN FINES.

  31. The judge imposed what amounts to the maximum within the plea agreement. On the three counts sentences were withheld, probation for two years was ordered and as a condition of probation one year in the county jail and $30,000 in fines.

    This is a VERY severe sentence. One year jail time is like two or more in prison. And the $30,000 in fines is the max.

    Appears restitution may have been satisfied up front as there was no restitution ordered.

      1. One year in the county jail as a condition of probation. Nine months on one count, three months consecutive on another and three months concurrent on the third.

  32. Shame on the elite, especially the attorney sticking up for a criminal because she’s friends with him. Would she feel the same if it wasn’t her friend or would the law be the law?

  33. Symptomatic of deep corruption in Kenosha and Racine counties. Criminals with connections get away with absolute criminal activity. This is obvious to even the casual observer yet nothing is done about it. The electorate is responsible and needs to get its act together with out further delay.

  34. Well, can’t say we didn’t see this coming. The Pleasant Prairie mafia will not be trifled with. Stay in your lane peasants, or be mowed down like the median weeds you resemble.

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