The Latest: 2nd defendant pleads guilty to Indian-art fraud

Markets Associated Press

The Latest on federal prosecution of fake Indian-art sales (all times local):

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3:30 p.m.

A second defendant has pleaded guilty in federal court to the sale of fake Native American jewelry that was manufactured in the Philippines.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque confirmed Wednesday that art gallery owner Nael Ali has pleaded guilty to misrepresenting Indian-produced goods in violation of the Indian Arts and Craft Act.

Ali was accused of selling fake Indian art at two galleries in the Old Town neighborhood of Albuquerque. He acknowledged attributing jewelry to specific Navajo and Zuni Pueblo craftsman when it was actually made in the Philippines.

Two criminal convictions have been made in a sweeping international investigation into bogus Indian art sales at several galleries across the United States.

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Ongoing investigations spearheaded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have laid bare the breadth and sophistication of distribution networks for fake Indian-style art and crafts.

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2:20 p.m.

A defendant has pleaded guilty in federal court to a misdemeanor criminal charge in the sale of fake Native American jewelry that was manufactured in the Philippines.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque confirmed Wednesday that art supplier Mohammad Manasra pleaded guilty to misrepresenting fake Indian-produced goods in violation of the Indian Arts and Craft Act.

The guilty plea represents the first conviction in a sweeping international investigation into bogus Indian art sales at galleries stretching from Albuquerque to California and Virginia.

In October 2015, federal agents raided Indian art galleries in Albuquerque, Gallup, and Calistoga, California, to seize counterfeits and evidence.

Manasra has signed an agreement to forfeit 5,268 pieces of jewelry. A sentencing hearing is still months away. An attorney for Manasra declined Wednesday to discuss the case.