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Two Ex-Cons Fight for Stakes in a Gold-for-Cash Business

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Clark went on to say that Republic had spent "tens of thousands of dollars on reputation management" as a result of the "pesky" July 2010 New Times article. But, Clark said, the more the company grows, "the more you will be linked to it. It's unfortunate, but that's the way it is. We know for a fact it's cost us several million dollars in business already."

Clark warned that Teeple Hall could obtain tax returns and some financial info, but that no confidential client information would be delivered.

Given that information, Clark's position was that someone could steal away Republic's customers and that Republic could be sued by customers who felt their privacy had been violated.

Clark concluded the terse e-mail with, "Sherman, we've known each other for 38 years. You and I need to meet and work out a reasonable resolution . . . fair enough?"

Apparently not.

The lawsuit filed in May 2011 alleged that ORG was forced to pay taxes because of its investment in Republic yet didn't get its proper profit distribution. ORG demanded that Republic turn over all its financial data, which ORG said it had a right to look at under terms of the Republic operating agreement signed by Clark and Unkefer.

Unkefer claimed in his deposition that he had absolutely nothing to do with the lawsuit — it was ORG's doing.

Clark filed a counterclaim, saying he'd been the victim of misrepresentation and breach of contract. Instead of going into business with his old friend, he said he unknowingly had gone into business with two lawyers he'd never met — Teeple and Hall.

Yet Clark had told New Times in 2010 that Unkefer was not a partner of Republic's — he insisted the partner was the trust of Unkefer's deceased wife, Sharon.

In a more recent interview, Clark said he believed Unkefer controls Sharon's trust. Therefore, he argued, Unkefer was his actual partner.

And 'round they went.


Unkefer is cagey and arrogant in his deposition for the lawsuit, leading to some farcical moments.

Asked about his history, Unkefer says he's a "dropout like Bill Gates."

Unkefer downplays his leadership role with XanGo, denying he ever was a XanGo distributor.

"I mean, they certainly know who I am, you know, and regard me in a favorable way," says Unkefer, one of XanGo's top earners whose LinkedIn account describes him as an "independent distributor" at XanGo.

Clark's lawyer, John Jakubczyk, asks about one of several companies tied to Unkefer, GBSLU Inc., and Unkefer says he's not sure he's heard of it.

"Well, you're the president of it," Jakubczyk answers.

Unkefer's interrogation by Jakubczyk almost doesn't seem fair, because Jakubczyk and Clark knew, when Unkefer signed the Republic operating agreement in 2009, that his involvement in the gold company was mired in a maze of suspicious corporations and trusts.

Unkefer says Hall, as trustee of Mango Trust, had the Mango-owned X-1 company send him money specifically for the Republic investment. That, Unkefer contends, meant the money came from ORG, which also is owned by the trust.

But Jakubczyk uncovered a key discrepancy. When Unkefer signed the July 2009 operating agreement, he wrote that he was manager of Occidental Management, the parent company to ORG. But at the time, he wasn't.

"Apparently, [the manager of Occidental Management] had been changed a few days before that," Unkefer says.

"It actually had been changed back in April," Jakubczyk tells him during the deposition.

"Okay."

Jim Clark had been fooled — in one aspect of the deal, anyway.

But whether this information about the switch in managers would have changed Clark's deal with Unkefer over Republic can't be known.

Clark went into business with ORG, not Unkefer, according to the initial corporate filing for Republic Monetary filed with the state of Arizona.

Clark did make one sizable payout to Unkefer and/or ORG, both sides agree.

In early 2010, the CEO took Unkefer aside at Republic and handed him 32 gold coins (each was an ounce and worth about $1,100 at the time), saying, "This is a dividend."

Unkefer says he took the coins to Teeple Hall, to be deposited in bank account owned by Mango Trust. He says he made it clear to Clark that he expected more dividends if ORG incurred a tax liability.

Then, when ORG received a tax bill that year, it got Unkefer's attention. About the same time, Unkefer says, the trustees heard about improper accounting procedures at Republic — suggesting that the company had more money than Clark was saying and, therefore, should have made profit distributions to ORG.

Other case documents show that, in the months following Unkefer's August 2011 testimony, Teeple Hall stepped up demands for Republic's financial info and felt the demands were getting stonewalled.

But Clark and Jakubczyk viewed the demands as invasive.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern