"I'm like a bad case of the clap," he roars. "I'm not going away no matter what you do!"

"Get 'im Bob!" someone shouts back.

"Rick Stone, you no-good son of a bitch, I'm about 75 feet from your office," says Romanik. "Have the guts to come out here and face me."

Rick Sealock

There are county workers coming in and out, but Romanik keeps a special eye on the maintenance workers scrubbing the empty fountains.

"The last time I tried to do this," Romanik has repeated gleefully, "they tried to assassinate me."

According to the police report, a half hour into Romanik's live broadcast on May 17, a 72-year-old county maintenance worker came out of the courthouse and started sweeping the walk. He walked up to Romanik's table and said he needed to sweep around it. Believing the worker was sent to intentionally disrupt the broadcast, the report says Romanik yelled, "That's what happens when a dog fucks a cat!" (No, no, no, corrects Romanik. It was: "That's what happens when a woman has sex with a dog — you get a no-good son of a bitch!")

The maintenance man shoved Romanik then pushed him with a broomstick before someone called the cops. When the deputies came back to Romanik with surveillance tapes of the incident, they report he waved them away.

"Romanik stated he did not want [him] to go to jail," the responding sheriff's deputy wrote.

"I'm not going to have him arrested," Romanik scoffs later. "Unlike Mrs. Kern. Who wants to fuck with me and cost me money."

The incident — another favorite from his airtime soap opera — occurred when he went to St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern's home in Belleville, suspecting that Kern did not actually live in his district. Romanik came face to face with Kern's wife, who filed a complaint with the police.

"She stated she is familiar with Romanik and knows he is a convicted felon," the police report reads. "She stated while she was telling him to leave he was speaking into something and felt he was broadcasting on his radio show."

Romanik was arrested three days later and charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing. The charges have been dismissed, but the case is being appealed to state court. That, of course, has the Grim Reaper swinging his scythe at the Kerns every chance he gets.

"Mark Kern, I should give you $5,000 just to have sex with that nasty old lady," Romanik crows on the plaza. "Hey, Mark Kern, you rotten bastard!"

From the start of the winding driveway, Romanik's sprawling home on a manmade lake east of Belleville looks something like a compound. Grimacing lions leer down from brick columns, and behind them a phalanx of security cameras watches silently. Huge golden letters arc over the spiked front gate spelling "ROMANIK," and below that the initials "RR" shine in the late afternoon sun.

Romanik parks his cherry red Chevy SSR — one of a fleet of vehicles he keeps covered in decals advertising the radio stations — and jogs up the driveway. He's got to go alone, he says, because some friends who wouldn't want to be identified by a reporter are enjoying his pool and its Playboy Mansion-style grotto.

It's hours after the Grim Reaper of Radio show, and Romanik is still in high gear. His boundless energy, he says, often has people accusing him of being on drugs.

"I've never. On my son's life," he swears. "I haven't drank in 35, 40 years. Not that I'm a teetotaler. I just don't like the taste of it. I couldn't work two or three jobs, and go to school, and be up to answer the bell the next morning."

The driveway of the Romanik home is jammed with vehicles, including a party bus and a stretch limo. Much of his personal wealth, Romanik says, comes from the stock market and real estate investments. He says he bought his first piece of land around the age of 22.

"I had a lot of property. Anything that I thought I could turn a profit on," he says. "I knew I was never going to live real good on a policeman's salary."

He still owns the land on which two strip clubs operate. The owner of Pyramid of Pleasure, the former Crystal Palace, is on a pay-to-own plan with Romanik. The other is the Hollywood Showclub that is technically owned by Stephen Romanik II, though when Riverfront Times called the club last week, the person who answered the phone identified the elder Romanik as the boss and said he's in every night at 7:30.

On weekends Romanik likes to tool around Grafton (where he owns a condo) with his girlfriend of more than twenty years, Tina Sanders, and other friends.

There seems to be no shortage of Romanik friends and acquaintances. A lunch in downtown Belleville can be an hours-long affair, with a stream of people — attorneys, cops and civil servants — funneling past his table to trade barbs and gossip.

Fealty to friends is a towering principle in Romanik's world. After his federal trial, when he was sentenced for refusing to testify in the Venezia case, the Belleville News-Democrat ran a cartoon depicting Romanik as a giant rat with his tail caught in a trap. "Do I look like the kind of guy who'd rat on his friends?" the word bubble read. Romanik sued the paper for painting him in a "false light." (The suit was later dismissed.)

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