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3 Plead Guilty in International Jewelry Fraud Case

Each defendant faces up to five years in prison.

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Three members of an international conspiracy to import knock-off jewelry from the Philippines and misrepresent it as Native American have pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme, authorities said.

On Jan. 6, all three defendants pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Z. Boyle of the District of Arizona. INSTORE first reported on the case in March.

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They face a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and fines up to $250,000. Their sentencing dates have not yet been set.

  • Laura Marye Wesley, a.k.a. Laura Lott, 32, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit misrepresentation of Indian-produced goods, wire fraud, mail fraud, and entry of goods by means of false statements and smuggling goods, for her role in the manufacture, importation and sale of knock-off jewelry as Native American-made. Wesley is scheduled to be sentenced on March 30.
  • Christian Coxon, 46, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to misrepresent Indian-produced goods and to commit wire fraud, for his role in ordering and misrepresenting imported, knock-off jewelry as Native American-made at his retail store Turquoise River Trading Co., located in San Antonio, TX. Coxon is scheduled to be sentenced on March 23.
  • Waleed Sarrar, a.k.a. Willie Sarrar, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to misrepresent Indian-produced goods and to commit wire fraud, for his role in ordering and misrepresenting imported, knock-off jewelry as Native American-made at his retail store Scottsdale Jewels, located in Scottsdale, AZ. Sarrar is scheduled to be sentenced on March 30.

The announcement of the pleas came from Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Michael Bailey of the District of Arizona.

According to information that the defendants admitted to as part of their pleas, from January 2016 through February 2019, they conspired with each other, and others, to design jewelry in the Native American Indian style and manufacture the jewelry in the Philippines with Filipino labor. The defendants also conspired to import the jewelry from the Philippines to Arizona without indelible markings as required by law, and display, advertise and sell the jewelry to customers based on false representations that the jewelry items were made by Native Americans in the U.S.

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As part of her plea, Wesley agreed that she owned and operated LMN Jewelers, a jewelry business that specialized in the sale of Native American style jewelry, and co-owned and co-operated Last Chance Jewelers, a similar jewelry business.

She also admitted to removing “Made in the Philippines” stickers from bags of imported jewelry, smuggling jewelry into the U.S. from the Philippines through the U.S. Postal Service to avoid inspection by federal authorities at the port of entry, wiring money to the Philippines to cover the costs of the jewelry-making business there, working with Filipino factory workers who were manufacturing the knock-offs, and delivering the knock-off Native-American-style jewelry to retail jewelry stores in Arizona, Colorado, California, Texas, Minnesota, Utah and elsewhere.

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