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57-Year-Old Career Criminal Charged For OWI-Related Traffic Accident That Caused Serious Injuries – $50,000 Bail

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James T. Klein (54) Kenosha
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

On June 12, 2024, Officers of the Kenosha Police Department were dispatched to the area of 23rd Avenue and 50th Street in Kenosha. Dispatch advised that a vehicle was on fire with a person inside of it. Another person was reported to have been ejected from a vehicle.

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A Kenosha Police Officer reported upon arrival he observed a Chevy Malibu facing southwest on the northwest corner. The vehicle had heavy front end damage and was on fire. The vehicle was up against a pole near the sidewalk. The Officer observed a tan Jeep in a grassy lot on the north east corner which had sustained heavy damage. There was a large debris field of vehicle parts in the intersection of 50th Street and 23rd Avenue.

The Officer reported that James Klein, was lying in the street just east of his Malibu. Two unknown individuals were tending to Klein. The male stated that Klein was in the Malibu. The Officer reports the Malibu is registered to Klein. The Officer recognized the Malibu from a crash and OWI arrest that took place on May 8, 2024. The Officer recalled Klein possessing Smirnoff Ice alcohol containers from that incident.

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James T. Klein (54) Kenosha
(Kenosha County Sheriff)

The Officer reports during this incident, he observed in plain view in the Malibu were alcohol containers. Another Officer later photographed the Malibu, and observed a can of Strawberry White Claw Hard Seltzer (5% ALC/VOL) and a red white and blue Smirnoff can in the cup holder. The vehicle smelled strongly of intoxicants and had its airbags deployed. A third Officer followed Klein as he was taken to Saint Catherine’s Hospital to be flighted. This Officer noted a strong odor of intoxicants coming from Klein.

The responding officer was notified by Officer Schend that moments before the crash, Klein was observed at Shenanigans tavern in his Malibu attempting to obtain more alcohol but was refused due to being intoxicated. Klein was reported to have struck a building with his vehicle there and fled the scene. The incident at Shenanigans was called in at 7:54 p.m. This incident was called in at 7:55 p.m. The two incidents were approximately 10 blocks apart.

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Based on the open intoxicants/odor from the Malibu, the odor of intoxicants coming from Klein in the ambulance and information from an Officer at the scene of the hit and run, Kenosha Police concluded Klein was operating his Malibu while impaired by alcohol.

A fourth officer reported he was dispatched to St. Catherine’s hospital to speak to the driver of the other vehicle. She stated on that date while on 50th Street and traveling towards 22nd Avenue, she observed a black vehicle that did not stop at the posted stop sign. The vehicle struck her vehicle on the right side.

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Police reported the spoke to another witness, who had observed the collision. She stated she was outside of her residence, when she observed the black Malibu driving faster than 30MPH north on 23rd Avenue. Migdalia stated the Malibu did not attempt to stop for a stop sign at 50th Street. She stated the Malibu struck a silver SUV that was traveling eastbound on 50th Street in the intersection of 23rd Avenue and 50th Street. She stated the silver SUV rolled northbound after being struck and the front passenger flew out of her window. The front passenger was identified as the female driver’s 16-year-old daughter.

The witness stated she ran to the silver SUV and her husband removed an infant from a baby seat in the rear passenger seat of the SUV. The witness stated a woman, identified as the female driver, got out of the driver’s seat of the SUV and asked about her daughter. The witness stated they located the 16-year-old in the grass on the southside of the SUV. The witness stated she observed the Malibu was on fire and several younger subjects and pulled Klein out.

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Police were informed that the 16-year-old had suffered a pelvic fracture injury and had to be transported to Froedtert Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee.

Klein was charged with two felonies – Injury By Intoxicated Use of a Vehicle and First Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety. He was also charged with non-criminal OWI. If convicted of all charges, Klein faces 25 years in the Wisconsin State Prison System.

Klein has an extensive criminal history in Kenosha County comprised of convictions for:

Felony Substantial Battery – Intend Bodily Harm
Felony Burglary of Dwelling
Felony Possession of THC
Felony Threats to Injure / Accuse of Crime
Criminal Trespass To Dwelling
Misdemeanor Bail Jumping x3
Obstructing an Officer
D/C (Repeater)
D/C (Habitual Criminality)
Attempted Theft of Movable Property
Retail Theft


The following charges have been dismissed by the Kenosha DA against Klein over the years:

Felony Theft of Moveable Property > $2,500 (Repeater)
Felony Burglary of Dwelling
Domestic Abuse Disorderly Conduct
Bail Jumping x 6
Criminal Damage To Property (Repeater) x 2
Disorderly Conduct x2

Kenosha County Court Commissioner William Michel II
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Kenosha County Court Commissioner William Michel II set Klein’s bail at $50,000 cash last week. Klein was unable to appear at his initial appearance as he is still in the hospital. He is due back in court on June 21, 2024 if he is well enough.

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3 Responses

  1. Good for Shenanigans for not serving him, though the damage was already done. It’s nice to see some establishments show concern.

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