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September 19, 2019

8/15/2019 7:28:00 AM
Teacher accused of drug possession requests jury trial
Jamie Taylor
River News Reporter

A 33-year-old School District of Rhinelander fourth grade teacher facing three drug-related charges has asked the judge hearing the case to set the matter for a jury trial.

Anthony J. Klein made the request during a pretrial conference Tuesday in Oneida County Circuit Court.

Klein was charged with one count of possession of narcotic drug, two counts of possession of a controlled substances and two counts of possession of an illegally obtained prescription on March 27 after he was allegedly found in a "very lethargic" state at a Rhinelander gas station. He was originally charged with two additional counts of possession of an illegally obtained prescription, but those counts were dismissed in an amended complaint filed on April 11.

According to the original criminal complaint, a gas station clerk reported there was "a very lethargic male customer" in a vehicle outside the store.

When police arrived on scene they made contact with Klein, who explained that he was headed to a colleague's house "for work stuff."

The officer also described Klein as appearing drowsy and noted he responded slowly to commands.

Klein denied having had anything to drink but when asked about other substances he told the officer, "Well...I ...kinda took my prescription" speaking in a "very drawn out manner," the deputy wrote in his report attached to the complaint. 

After Klein failed field sobriety tests, the deputy placed him under arrest for suspicion of operating while intoxicated. During a search pursuant to the arrest, officers found a prescription pill bottle containing a number of different pills on his person, the complaint states. The complaint said the pills included a Schedule II opioid narcotic as well as other controlled substances. 

According to the School District of Rhinelander website, Klein has been teaching in the Rhinelander district for six years and was based at Central Elementary at the time of his arrest.

At his initial appearance, judge Patrick O'Melia set a $500 cash bond in the case. During a preliminary hearing on April 30, the deputy testified to his encounter with Klein. O'Melia ruled there was enough probable cause to bind the case over for further proceedings.

Klein entered not guilty pleas to all three counts at his arraignment May 20.

According to online court records, at Tuesday's hearing, assistant district attorney Jillian Pfeifer told O'Melia a settlement offer had been presented to Klein's attorney, Maggie Hogan. Klein asked for a jury trial in the case, and a two-day trial was scheduled to start on Feb. 19, 2020. A pre-trial conference was scheduled for Oct. 22.

After the charges were filed, district superintendent Kelli Jacobi told the River News Klein was placed on paid administrative leave.

At some point, Klein received notice that the district had decided not to renew his teaching contract for the 2019-20 school year.

Klein appealed this decision to the school board on May 13. After coming out of closed session to hear the appeal, the board voted to renew the contract 4-2, with David Holperin, Ann Munninghoff Eshelman, Ben Roskoskey and Ron Lueneburg voting "aye" and Judy Conlin and Ron Counter voting "nay," according to meeting minutes the River News obtained after filing an open records request.

Mary Peterson, Mike Roberts and Duane Frey were absent from the meeting.

The notice of contract renewal states that Klein will teach at Pelican Elementary School in the upcoming school year.

Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at jamie@rivernewsonline.com.



Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2019
Article comment by: Amanada Marie

How can renewing a teaching contract for someone accused of drug related charges be in the best interest of our children? That is not a role model I want teaching in any school! He should remain on leave until the hearing and if found guilty should lose his job permanently.



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