By Corina Oliquino i FilAm Star Correspondent
Filipinos Mency Remedio, Orlando Abellanosa, and Ariel Adlawan Canedo were among seven people, including Americans Richard Dennis Nisbet, his daughter Laura Marye Lott, Christian Coxon (the owner and operator of Turquoise River Trading Company that claimed to specialize in Indian-made jewelry), and Waleed Sarrar (who owned and operated Scottsdale Jewels LLC that advertised it was selling authentic Indian-made jewelry), charged with fraud and money laundering scheme for allegedly selling fake native American jewelries imported from the Philippines.
The seven were cited in violation of Federal Laws, including the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) for running the business for several years.
On February 26, a Federal Grand Jury in Phoenix, Arizona returned a 38-count indictment against the seven for operating a “fraudulent scheme to import Native American-style jewelry and sell it to retail stores and individuals as authentic jewelry made by native Americans, according to the Justice Department.
“An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law,” the Justice Department said, with the indictment alleging Nisbet and his daughter conspired with others to design and manufacture the native American-style jewelry in the Philippines to import in the U.S.
“The defendants and their conspirators used various jewelry businesses — including Last Chance Jewelers and LMN Jewelers — to design and manufacture jewelry in the native American style at factories in the Philippines where Filipino jewelry-makers made all of the jewelry,” the Justice Department noted, with the conspirators alleged to have took several measures to ensure the jewelry resembled authentic native American-made jewelry, including copying 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 Justice Department also noted the jewelries were smuggled to the U.S. through FedEx or into the mainland by hand through the Philippines Postal System.
“None of the jewelry items were indelibly marked with the country of origin as required by Customs law,” GMA News reported.
“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,” the report added, noting the law provides “critical economic benefits for native American cultural development by recognizing that forgery and fraudulent arts and crafts diminish the livelihood of native American artists and craftspeople by lowering both market prices and standards.”