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2 Sentenced for Selling Fraudulent Native American Jewelry

They were accused in a scheme to import jewelry from the Philippines and sell it to U.S. customers as authentic.

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ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Two people were sentenced in federal court in Albuquerque, NM, in connection with a scheme to import Native American-style jewelry from the Philippines and sell it to customers in the U.S. as authentic.

Sentenced were Jawad Khalaf, 72, of Albuquerque; Nashat Khalaf, 73, of Gallup, NM; Sterling Islands Inc., a wholesale jewelry business in Albuquerque; and Al-Zuni Global Jewelry Inc., a wholesale jewelry business in Gallup. In April, the defendants pled guilty to misrepresentation of Indian-produced goods and services in an amount greater than $1,000. Another defendant, Taha Shawar, 49, of Breckenridge, CO, remains a fugitive, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico.

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Jawad Khalaf and Nash Khalaf were sentenced to two years of supervised release and Jawad Khalaf must also perform 100 hours of community service. Sterling Islands was sentenced to five years of probation and 50 hours of community service, and Al-Zuni Global Jewelers was sentenced to five years of probation and 20 hours of community service. Collectively, the defendants will pay $300,000 to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board and forfeit their interests in $288,739 seized by investigators in the case.

A grand jury returned an indictment on Dec. 19, 2018, charging these defendants and three other people with conspiracy, smuggling goods into the U.S. and misrepresentation of Indian-produced goods and products. The defendants admitted that on Oct. 28, 2015, they displayed and offered for sale miniature canteens at Al-Zuni Global Jewelry in Gallup. These canteens were not actually Indian-produced but could have reasonably been mistaken for authentic Indian-produced canteens, according to the release.

“I want to express my appreciation for the hard work of the investigators and prosecutors who brought this case to conclusion,” said John C. Anderson, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico. “It is the culmination of countless hours of diligent work and cooperation among our partnering law enforcement agencies on behalf of Native American artists and artisans. We stand ready to bring the power of the law to bear upon those seeking to profit from cultural theft.”

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