Family pleads guilty to selling PH-made fakes of Alaska Native crafts
JUNEAU, Alaska – A family in the state of Washington pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sell fake Alaskan native art work that were actually made in the Philippines when they operated Ketchikan, Alaska stores from 2016 to 2021.
The Rodrigo family admitted violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act by selling Philippine-produced stone carvings and wood totem poles that they passed off as authentic Alaska Native produced artwork, a Justice Department press release stated.
According to court documents, between April 2016 through December 8, 2021, Cristobal “Cris” Magno Rodrigo, 59, Glenda Tiglao Rodrigo, 46, and Christian Ryan Tiglao Rodrigo, 24, operated Alaska Stone Arts, LLC, Rail Creek, LLC, and Rodrigo Creative Crafts in Ketchikan, Alaska.
The Rodrigos sold stone carvings and wood totem pole carvings that were sourced from Glenda Rodrigo’s company, Rodrigo Creative Crafts, located in the Philippines.
This Philippine business was created for the sole purpose of producing carvings featuring Alaskan Native designs and motifs through the use of Philippine labor, according to court documents.
The carvings were shipped to the United States and subsequently to the Rodrigos’ stores in Ketchikan, and were then sold as authentic Alaskan Native art to unsuspecting customers in Alaska and elsewhere.
As part of the conspiracy, the Rodrigos also hired Alaskan Natives at their stores to represent and sell Philippine produced artwork as their own authentic Alaskan Native artwork in order to deceive customers.
The defendants were arraigned and they pleaded guilty on April 28, 2023, before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Matthew S. Scoble. If convicted, the Rodrigos face a maximum of 10 years in prison.
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A sentencing hearing has been set on August 17, 2023, before Senior District Court Judge Timothy M. Burgess in federal district court.
“This type of fraud directly affects Alaska Native artisans and their ability to make a living and is an affront to Alaska Native artists that have produced these beautiful works throughout the history of their culture” said U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker.
“Protecting Alaska Native and American Indian culture and traditions is a critical part of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act,” said Edward Grace, Assistant Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement.
Customers of Alaska Stone Arts, LLC or Rail Creek, LLC who purchased a stone carving or wood totem pole believing that it was an authentic Alaskan Native artwork, are asked to contact U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent Sherrell at 907-586-7545.
If you suspect potential Indian Arts and Crafts Act violations being committed, a complaint may be submitted through the Indian Arts and Crafts Board’s online complaint form, www.doi.gov/iacb/should-i-report-potential-violation, email, email@example.com, or toll free number, 888-278-3253.