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Asked if Stewart is telling the truth, Kalk hesitates before saying, "I don't want to say. I don't know. I guess so, yes, he's a driver."
Kalk and Stewart quickly forged a friendship that extended well beyond normal doctor-patient boundaries. On September 28, 2006, Kalk says he crashed his Honda Accord and couldn't remember where he left the vehicle. He then reported the car stolen and asked Stewart to try to locate it for him.
"I had NyQuil, and I was driving with a 102-degree fever," Kalk recounts. "Instead of staying home and not working, I tried to drive to work. I basically had a problem where I hit tires against curb and left it at a gas station. Then the car got towed away. Jim was able to find the car."
Kalk celebrated the incident by placing an ad in Riverfront Times in October 2006. The poster for the movie Dude, Where's My Car? was altered to include his and Stewart's faces over those of the actors.
In January 2007 Stewart was arrested in Granite City, Illinois, for assaulting his brother with pepper spray. Kalk brought Stewart a prescription drug, the painkiller oxycodone, to the jail and helped bail him out. "It's not typical for a doctor to bail people out of jail," Kalk concedes. "My illness had me thinking that was the right thing to do, that he'd be suffering without medication in jail."
In September 2007, a year after they met, Stewart and Kalk decided to go into business together and registered a corporation called Metropolitan Physicians Group with the Missouri Secretary of State. Stewart was listed as the chief officer and says he bankrolled Kalk's move to a new office on Studt Avenue in Creve Coeur with more than $40,000 in personal loans. He refuses to specify where the money came from.
"I'm connected to certain things I can't discuss," Stewart says cryptically. "Alex knew where I got the money. It was something I had put away for years. I thought it was a good, legitimate investment. A doctor's office, if things are run right, makes money."
Says Kalk: "There was a short period of months where we worked together in practice. I would see patients, and he helped with billing and collections."
The partnership soon soured. The final straw, Stewart says, came when he learned that Kalk had set up a separate company — seven months earlier, in February 2007 — called Project Change Lives with a man named John Tiller.
"It was an idea to have a help group for people who were having trouble with addictions," Kalk explains. "We were never able to get it off the ground. It never took in any money."
Tiller was only a few years removed from setting up a company called "The Civil Rights Defense Legal Team," which swindled prison inmates and their families by charging them for fraudulent legal advice (see "Serial Tiller," Bruce Rushton, July 24, 2002). Kalk says Tiller's parents were among his patients and he wasn't familiar with his business partner's shady past, which includes 27 felony convictions.
"I knew people in prison who Tiller scammed money off of," Stewart says. "When I heard [Alex] was associating with him I said, 'No way.' I made him dissolve the company."
According to Secretary of State records, Project Change Lives was formally disbanded in November 2007. Tiller could not be reached for comment.
Kalk and Stewart's partnership lasted until March 2008, when Kalk trashed his patients' medical charts in Manchester. Stewart provided Manchester and Creve Coeur police reports to Riverfront Times.
"We had 2,000-some patients," Stewart says. "They only found 466 records. What happened to the other 1,500? What if that was your Social Security number and D.O.B. and all your personal information floating around out there?"
Last month Stewart set up a website, www.mpg2009.org, ostensibly to expose Kalk and notify former patients about their missing records. Stewart also uses the site to publish sensational tales about Kalk's alleged exploits with prostitutes and strippers.
"After everything I've done for this guy, to screw me over the way he did, there is no way in hell I'm going to sit back and let him get away with it," Stewart says. "He'll go to the next person and do the same thing."
Kalk insists Stewart is a deranged, disreputable ex-con out to "torch the ashes of my life." "It's not against the law for people to go to east-side clubs. This guy happened to be a friend who knew my personal life," Kalk says. "When I met him I didn't know his whole past. He was just a guy who was offering help to me when I was pretty alone and needed some help."
Stewart admits his criminal record is lengthy. He claims — and Kalk believes him — to be the son of a Mafia hit man who worked for St. Louis' Giordano crime family. At his Brentwood apartment, Stewart goes so far as to describe how, at the age of nineteen, he shot his father to death in a domestic dispute after his dad supposedly came after him with a knife. Stewart says it was self-defense, and the jury acquitted him.
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