A Brigham Young University music professor and his nephew were arrested this week for investigation of extortion of a Salt Lake stock broker.
Percy Kalt, 58, Provo, and Steven Brent Kalt, 30, Cottonwood Heights, were booked into the Salt Lake County Jail Monday night for investigation of theft by extortion.They were arrested at 112 W. Third South about 11:20 p.m. Monday after police observed two men picking up a briefcase containing $1,000 in cash.
Both men were released from the Salt Lake County Jail Tuesday morning. Percy Kalt was then arrested by Bountiful police and booked into the Davis County Jail for investigation of first-degree felony aggravated arson. He was released Tuesday afternoon. A formal complaint was filed on Percy Kalt in Bountiful Circuit Court Wednesday morning.
On Sunday, the victim, Michael Strand, received phone calls at his Bountiful residence from someone demanding $35,000 in cash. The caller also gave delivery instructions, according to a police report.
Strand - who has been convicted in federal court of fraud and who is being sued by several investors - has received numerous threats since January from people claiming he bilked them out of money.
In February, Strand received at his business on Exchange Place several threatening letters that demanded $35,000 in $100 bills. On Feb. 19, plainclothes police officers staked out the business but were fooled by a man posing as a floral deliveryman. The man delivered a vase of flowers that contained a note demanding the money be placed in a certain garbage can in Liberty Park the following Sunday afternoon.
Police had Strand place the money in an envelope and into the garbage can, but no one showed up to collect it.
On the night of March 6, a Molotov cocktail was thrown through a basement bedroom window in his home, igniting the carpet, drapes and furniture. Strand's daughter heard the glass breaking, and the family was able to extinguish the fire. A second firebomb landed harmlessly on the front lawn.
A week later, Strand received a package that contained a rubber fish, which was construed by investigators to be a Mafioso threat.
In a telephone interview with the Deseret News Tuesday evening, Steven Kalt said he had been "recruited" to recover $35,000 in penny stock investments his uncle lost to Strand. Steven Kalt denied any involvement with the firebombing but said he did throw a rock through Strand's automobile window, parked at a club near Strand's business, "to let him know that we knew where he was."
"We never meant to harm him and really didn't realize what we were doing was wrong," said Steven Kalt.
He said he believes his uncle had become obsessed by the idea of getting back his money, which he had borrowed to invest. "In jail the other night, we talked about what we had done and he said what he did was wrong and stupid and he wants nothing more to do with it. He'll just take his loss now and live with it."
Steven Kalt said he went with his uncle, whom he described as an "upstanding citizen," Monday night to "make sure he didn't get hurt."
Percy Kalt, in an Associated Press report, said, "In the attempt to regain my money, I exceeded the bounds of the law, and the whole affair became an obsession, which I now regret."
Percy Kalt, a violinist, has taught at BYU since 1966 and has a doctorate from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. School spokesman Paul Richards said his classes were being taught by someone else but that university officials had taken no action as a result of the arrest.
"He's still on the faculty and will remain so," Richards said. "We will not take action, if any, until the legal proceedings are completed."