The sentencing guidelines called for at least six months. Limbaugh decided to send away Elbring for three.

"This is a very difficult decision for me," the judge concluded. "I regret this immensely, given all your wonderful family history and all the good that you've done, but $24,000 in withheld taxes is just too much."

Elbring's defense attorney, Matt Schelp, felt his client was betrayed. So Reap offered to go back into court and remedy things on the record.

Chris Elbring of Kirkwood believes his former business partner, Jim Kalishman, is using his wealth and influence to ruin him.
Jennifer Silverberg
Chris Elbring of Kirkwood believes his former business partner, Jim Kalishman, is using his wealth and influence to ruin him.

"My reputation was not worth getting tarnished over this kind of case," Reap says.

But when Schelp and Reap called Judge Limbaugh to see about resentencing, Limbaugh informed them he'd actually planned to put away Elbring for a year. Reap's position hadn't affected the outcome.

And if he did resentence Elbring, the judge added, he'd feel compelled to take into account what transpired right after the hearing.

Upon learning he would serve three months, Elbring left the courtroom, shouted "Fuck!" and kicked the door.

Elbring says such actions are "things I'm not proud of."

Chris Elbring won't talk about the three months he spent at a medium-security prison in Tennessee.

He was released May 5. Seated in his Kirkwood home on a recent June morning, Elbring seems relieved that he can still lawfully possess his two handguns. Target shooting is how he deals with stress.

"You're controlling your breath," he says. "It's a good way to relax."

It's quiet at the Elbring house. Elbring's two kids are away at college. At sentencing, he'd told the judge, "I'll be lucky to make it through this still married." But he and his wife have stayed together.

Elbring is now pursuing his own lawsuit against the Kalishman brothers, Gary Smith and Lewis, Rice & Fingersh. The allegations include defamation and abuse of the judicial process.

Elbring has no job and remains hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. He worries that his name is now "forever associated" with felony wire fraud.

As for Jim Kalishman, he declined repeated requests for an interview, providing the RFT with a written statement instead. In it, Kalishman emphasizes that Elbring was indicted and served time in prison as part of a plea bargain.

"It is sad and unfortunate," Kalishman writes, that his former partner "continues to blame others and does not take responsibility for his own actions." Kalishman adds that he hopes readers will see Elbring's "baseless claims and personal attacks for what they really are."

Meanwhile, Kalishman's civil lawsuits alleging wire fraud and employment discrimination are still pending.

"It's like, I don't understand what you're looking for, dude," Elbring says, addressing his former business partner who is not present, but clearly still on his mind. They actually met for the first time, he recalls, right here in this living room.

"If you're not out just to punish me and make yourself look less stupid in front of your family and the people that invested, then what is the goal? Isn't a lawsuit all about getting back something you lost?

"Suing me is like suing a rock. I don't have anything."

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