An HIV-positive community activist who loaned a friend some money to keep a gay space operating on Davie St says the two-year-old debt has turned his life into a nightmare.
Fraser Doke says it wasn’t supposed to be that way when he loaned Andrew Cook of the Davie Village Café $25,000 to provide a space for gay groups to meet and to preserve some of the community’s history.
“I did believe in his dream,” says Doke, who has served on both the Vancouver Pride Society and Youthquest boards of directors.
Although Cook denies the debt to Doke in a July 2008 court document (in which he states that “Fraser Doke did not lend me any money”), he acknowledged the debt in an interview with Xtra West, Jun 25.
Cook admits he owes various people about $240,000.
“They invested in the café, and what it means to the community, and that’s what Fraser did,” Cook told Xtra West. “I didn’t know he couldn’t afford it.”
“I love Fraser to death,” says Cook, who is also HIV-positive. “Before I die, I will pay him every penny back.
“It’s sad that this whole thing happened,” adds Cook, who says he is on the verge of declaring bankruptcy.
Cook says the business trade for the café just didn’t materialize.
“I’m not a bad guy,” he says. “I didn’t rip anybody off. Fraser knew our struggles. He knew everything.”
Doke says he donated memorabilia from the Dogwood Monarchist Society, the BC Bears and from the old Doll and Pennys restaurant to the café. He says he asked Cook to donate it to the Queer History Project.
“His answer was, “Go fuck yourself,’” Doke alleges.
For Doke, that was the last straw. He got a court order that Andrew Cook repay him $26,194.
According to documents filed in BC small claims court, Doke says he loaned Andrew Cook, Davie Village Food and Beverage Ltd and a company registered as 082491 BC Ltd the amount of $25,000.
In small claims court notice of claim papers filed Jul 15, 2008, Doke says the loan to the Davie Village Café was made Jun 4, 2007.
At that time, the business was registered as Davie Village Food and Beverage and was operating at 2-1141 Davie St — better known as the Davie Village Café.
The court found in Doke’s favour and ordered Cook to repay him in full.
Provincial business incorporation records list Cook as the president of Davie Village Food and Beverage and Kevin Thomas Okrainetz as the secretary.
Their lawyer, Michael Armstrong, has been having problems locating his clients as well.
A document filed Dec 9, 2008 in BC Supreme Court says Armstrong cannot find his clients to serve them with an appointment notice to discuss their bill.
With a $4,000 trust taken into account, the bills Cook and Okraintetz owe Armstrong stand at just over $6,129.51.
Doke went so far as to get a wage-garnishing order served to Milestone’s restaurant where Cook had been working.
However, in an email dated Apr 14, Viktoria Benotas of Cara Foods which operates Milestone’s told Doke that Cook had left the company.
“I did receive the garnishing order and have set up Andrew,” Benotas wrote. “However, Andrew has now quit Milestone’s. I will not be able to honour the garnishment order from now on.”
Cara Foods did return Xtra West’s calls but could not confirm the email.
In his notice of claim, Doke says the loan was supposed to be repaid to his credit card on a monthly basis. Some payments were initially made.
But, he says, he subsequently went away and the payments stopped.
“Efforts to contact and resolve upon my return for this matter have proved useless,” he says in the notice of claim.
“Mr Cook has sold the business or change directors without contacting me or disclosing this debt to my satisfaction.”
According to the BC Ministry of Finance BC Registry Services, 082491 BC Ltd was registered May 13, 2008 with Bryan Dennis, Brent Covey, William Pitchford, Sarah Pool and Amber Summer listed as officers.
The numbered company replied to Doke’s notice of claim Jul 22, 2008 saying the loan was made prior to its incorporation and that it was not responsible for debts owed by Cook or Davie Village Food and Beverage.
Doke says the situation has left him stressed and in poor health.
He says he is fighting an uphill battle in the courts where there is no enforcement mechanism for claims orders. To get the payment order enforced, he says, he’s told he could need a bailiff or legal advice to advance his search for Cook.
“To do it yourself is next to impossible,” Doke says.