4 Americans, 3 Filipinos charged with selling PH-made ‘Native American’ jewelry
WASHINGTON –A federal grand jury in Phoenix, Arizona recently indicted, on 38-counts, U.S. and Philippines-based conspirators for fraudulently scheming to import Native American-style jewelry and sell it across the southwest United States as authentic jewelry made by Native Americans.
Indicted were the following: Richard Dennis Nisbet, 70, and his daughter Laura Marye Lott, 31, both of Peoria, Arizona; Christian Coxon, 45, of Selma, Texas, owner and operator of Turquoise River Trading Company in San Antonio; Waleed Sarrar, 43, of Chandler, Arizona, owner of Jewels LLC, in Scottsdale, Arizona; Mency Remedio, factory manager in the Philippines; Orlando Abellanosa and Ariel Adlawan Canedo, jewelry smiths in the Philippines, according to a Red Lake Nation Newsreport.
The conspirators allegedly ran the fraud and money laundering operation for several years in violation of federal laws, including the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA).
The defendants allegedly used Last Chance Jewelers, LMN Jewelers, among others, to make fake Native American jewelry in factories in the Philippines.
The conspirators allegedly copied jewelry designs from genuine Native American artists, using traditional Native American motifs and symbols in the jewelry, and stamping the jewelry with the initials of alleged Native American artists.
The fakes were then imported into the United States by FedEx, or smuggled in by hand or through the Philippines Postal System, to destinations in Arizona. From there they were allegedly advertised and sold to the general public as authentic jewelry made by Native Americans, at jewelry and crafts stores that purported to specialize in Native American pieces. None of items were marked with the country of origin as required by customs law.
The IACA prohibits the offer or display for sale, or the sale of any good in a manner that falsely suggests that it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian and Indian tribe.