Because of the fees charged by companies like Republic Monetary, it's possible to buy gold and lose hundreds of dollars per ounce in the short term. Silver's price is even more volatile.

Long term, the price of precious metals could keep rising. But if it rises too slowly, then other investments are better choices. And, once bought, owners must decide how to store all that metal, possibly for years or decades.

Precious-metals companies used to offer to store the metals. That's what got Unkefer and Clark into trouble.

Clark talks to local media in July following storm damage at his gold business.
Clark talks to local media in July following storm damage at his gold business.
Harley Davidson and his brother Mark say Unkefer is a scroundrel.
Harley Davidson and his brother Mark say Unkefer is a scroundrel.

Clark sold some of his clients' gold and silver and made bad investments with the proceeds. Combined with slipshod management of his company's finances, Sheffield Metals declared bankruptcy in 2003 with $1.5 million in assets and $6 million in liabilities. Clark was ordered to reimburse $1.5 million to dozens of ripped-off customers, but by the time his probation ended in 2006, he had paid back only $42,000.

Meanwhile, he still is getting pestered from his earlier involvement in North American Coin and Currency.

Margaret Viall of Bakersfield, California, believes Clark and four of his associates from North American owe her about $35 million (plus interest). Her attorney in Arizona, Steven Lawrence, filed a renewal in federal court last year for a two-decades-old court award against Clark and the others in that amount. Viall's California attorney, Norris Bishton, tells New Times that he believes the award against Clark still is "pursue-able," but he wouldn't elaborate.

At the least, the renewal shows how some people never will forget what Clark did.

Yet it was Unkefer, president of North American back in the day, who set up the original deal with Viall in 1979 that resulted in the loss of 154 bags of silver coins.

Viall called Unkefer one day and told him she wanted to store 100,000 ounces of silver at his company, says a 1991 Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision. She told him it should be in bags with her name on it, not commingled with anyone else's goods.

A couple of years later, she asked her son-in-law to "visit my money" in Phoenix. North American employees showed him Viall's bags of silver.

After the company declared bankruptcy on September 23, 1982, the bags disappeared.

Documents show that Jim Clark, vice president, secretary, and treasurer of NACC, had "extensive responsibilities" for the storage of metals until late 1981, including overseeing vault operations, the decision states.

Clark never was charged criminally in the North American scandal, but Unkefer was convicted of fraud and sentenced to 10 years. He served five.

An analysis showed about 4,200 people had lost a total of about $16 million. Unkefer was ordered to pay $7.5 million in restitution. It would have been more, but the amount was capped under Arizona law.

The Superior Court judge overseeing the 1988 case, Gloria Ybarra, was incensed by Unkefer's lies and promises to pay back victims, who were — as she said during the sentencing hearing — "absolutely devastated" by the fraud. Unkefer hadn't repaid one cent in the five years since North American's collapse, she said, despite earning a decent living. Unkefer had been running a prepaid legal-service company with his new wife, Sharon Davidson, whom he married in 1983; Jim Clark had introduced them.

Ybarra told Unkefer she would make an example of him and hoped his case would be a deterrent to other unscrupulous business people.

Unkefer put his time in prison to good use; he prepared for the next phase of his life by earning an accounting degree.


After he was released from prison, Unkefer earned a living doing pre-paid legal-document work through the 1990s. Then, in the early 2000s, he got turned on to XanGo juice.

XanGo, a multi-level marketing company founded in 2002 by six guys from Utah, sells bottles of a fruit-juice cocktail for $25 to $35. It's a mix of apple and other juices, plus a secret quantity of its much-touted ingredient: juice of the Asian mangosteen fruit.

The company claims the juice has astounding health benefits, none of which have been proved. Yet thousands of people in several countries have bought the stuff, spreading the word through a chain of adherents rather than public advertising.

With an "MLM" like XanGo, it's all about being "upline." That's when you get into the business early and persuade other people to sell cases of the product for you. When they do, you get a cut. The majority of sales recruits down the line buy books and CDs on how to sell the stuff, accumulate cases of the product in their garages and never get close to big payoffs.

Unkefer and his wife "started making some big money — $90,000 to $100,000 a month," says one of Sharon's three sons, Mark Davidson, a former construction worker now employed at a Costco in Southern California. "Everything was put in my mom's name. [Unkefer] knew he was always on the hook for this [$7.5 million] restitution."

In 2005, Sharon asked Mark to move to their North Scottsdale property temporarily to help renovate the home. He lived out of an Airstream trailer and flew back to his wife and children in San Diego on weekends.

Harley Davidson, another brother, also moved in. He lives in Phoenix and plays in Deadbolt, a San Diego surf rock/psychobilly band he co-founded in 1988.

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6 comments
rawilson
rawilson

I knew the Unkefers back in their Pre Paid Legal days.  Smooth talker, that Unkefer.  His wife Sharon was a jewel.  It makes me sick to my stomach to realize he was hiding behind her all along.  She was a hard worker, worked her fingers to the bone for that man.  I know for a fact that her four sons were her top priority and she would do anything for them. If she knew what was going on now... that her "beloved" husband was screwing over her four sons and her grandchildren, AND that he is literally screwing his first born son's wife, the mother of his own grandchildren, who was also the Unkefer's secretary... Oh my God.  This man is the scum of the earth. The BIGGEST hypocrite of them all. Go get him, Davidsons! 

shadeaur14
shadeaur14

I would like to bone that whore Laudry

larry
larry

I think a guy who didles his sons ex wife has got to be a real sleazeball.

fairymagic13
fairymagic13

I've worked in law firms for 24 years and this kind of crap happens ALL THE TIME!!!  I don't mind when the "job creators" do this stuff to each other, but when they hurt other people who aren't "job creators" I think they should be held against a wall and each of their victims should get to knee them in the balls.  There's a State of Arizona Bar Association board which deals with regulation of the lawyers - lawyers who are supposed to tell their clients when something is illegal - and that board doesn't seem to be getting the point across to the attorneys in this case that they're going to be held responsible for their inaction and even aiding the commission of white collar crimes.  

 

shadeaur14
shadeaur14

@fairymagic13 This kind of shit started once that Kenyan took office. No leadership at the top....

 
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