Acting U.S. Attorney James D. Tierney announced Wednesday owner of Gallery 8 and Galleria Azul in Albuquerque’s Old Town pleaded guilty to violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act.
Fifty-three-year-old Nael Alie of Albuquerque, New Mexico knowingly sold counterfeit Native American-style jewelry. IACA prohibits the display or offer for sale of any item that falsely suggests it is Indian produced. The law coverall Indian-style contemporary and traditional arts and crafts made after 1935.
Manasra, a wholesaler of Native American jewelry, and Alie conspired to import and sell jewelry made in the Philippines as Native American-made jewelry. On February 26, 2014, Ali directed one of his employees to sell undercover agent 10 rings for $1,115. He also displayed for sale Filipino jewelry in his stores as Native American-made. The price tag for this jewelry far exceeded $1,000 in wholesale and retail price.
Manasra sold a Kokopelli earing and pendant set, a bracelet, two rings, and orange cluster pendant to an undercover agent on October 19, 2014.
“Today’s guilty plea is a victory for Native Americans and the protection of their cultural heritage. Southwest Native American jewelry is world renowned for its craftsmanship and beauty. Those who pay top dollar to own these treasures should be able to trust their authenticity and know their money supports real Native Americans and their tribes,” Tierney said in a statement. “Convictions of profiteers like the defendant in this case restore trust in that marketplace and prevent the exploitation of Native Americans.”
Ali faces an 18-month prison sentence and Manasra faces a one-year prison sentence.