Lawsuit claims Roseville minister's business is a fraud

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 11, 2011 - 7:49 PM

But Gabriel Odima says the two Colorado men who are suing him are the ones in the wrong. Odima has filed a counterclaim asking that the lawsuit be dismissed.

Gabriel Odima, an Anglican priest who runs GK Consulting Services in Roseville, says he's trying to help developing nations by providing low-cost vehicles to governments, churches, charities and community projects.

But a St. Paul attorney for two Colorado men who tried to buy vehicles for a charity in Sudan says Odima is nothing but a scam artist who takes money from his unsuspecting victims and doesn't deliver the goods.

A lawsuit filed Monday in Ramsey County District Court alleges that Vakindi L. Unvu of Denver and Ukuni Paulino of Commerce City, Colo., paid Odima and GK Consulting Services more than $36,000 for 12 vehicles. The lawsuit said the men traveled to Kenya and Uganda in October and November 2009 "based on false promises" that the vehicles would be shipped there.

"Defendants failed to deliver a single automobile that plaintiffs paid for," the suit said. "... Plaintiffs are just the latest victims in a scheme perpetrated by defendants to defraud individuals and companies around the world."

Odima said those allegations are "total misinformation based on fabrications." He and his attorney, Ken Schivone of Roseville, said the Colorado men signed a contract to buy 45 vehicles for a total of $185,000. That contract said that no vehicles would be shipped until full payment was made.

GK Consulting agreed to a six-month payment plan and the Colorado men defaulted after a couple of months, Odima and Schivone said. Odima said the men are welcome to cancel the contract, pay a penalty and receive a refund of the money they've already paid. Instead, he said, they have sued him.

Odima said he has operated GK Consulting Services for about 10 years and guessed that he has shipped 600 to 700 vehicles overseas. He also is executive director of the Africa Center for Peace and Democracy in Roseville.

A counterclaim, asking that the lawsuit be dismissed, has been delivered to the plaintiffs, Schivone said. It said that GK acquires vehicles from dealers in Japan at greatly reduced prices. GK pays cash to the dealers, which then ship the vehicles. The dealers will not ship the vehicles until they are paid in full.

The Colorado men's lawsuit said nothing about a contract for 45 vehicles for $185,000. It said that in February 2009, they entered into an oral contract to buy two vehicles. In March, April and June, there were three more oral contracts to buy 10 more vehicles. The men planned to have seven of the vehicles shipped to Africa to provide transportation in southern Sudan. They planned to sell the other five to raise money for a school project in Wau, Sudan.

The men paid a total of $36,155 for the 12 vehicles, the suit said. None was delivered. It also said Odima and GK Consulting agreed to pay for the men's travel expenses to Africa but never did.

The lawsuit accuses Odima and his business of fraud, consumer fraud and breach of contract. It asks for the standard "in excess of $50,000."

Perry de Stefano, the plaintiffs' attorney, said Odima also defrauded three Catholic dioceses in Tanzania by taking their money and delivering no vehicles. They also sued and won a $76,000 judgment against him in federal court.

Pat Pheifer • 612-741-4992

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