Non-Native Albuquerque Man Given Six-month Sentence for Selling Fake American Indian Jewelry

Ali owns Gallery 8 in Albuquerque’s Old Town.

Published August 30, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Nael Ali, 54, of Albuquerque, New Mexico was given a six-month prison sentence for violating the Indian Arts and Craft Act (IACA) by selling jewelry made in the Phillippines as American Indian-made jewelry by U.S. District Judge Judith C. Herrera.

Ali also was ordered to pay $9,048.78 in restitution.

The charges against Ali and co-defendant Mohammad Manasra, 58, also of Albuquerque, were the result of an ongoing federal investigation led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and FBI into an international scheme to violate the IACA.

During a law enforcement operation in Oct. 2015, federal agents executed 15 search warrants in New Mexico and one in California. Eight of the search warrants were executed in Albuquerque including four at retail and wholesale jewelry businesses.  In addition, search warrants were executed at three jewelry stores in Gallup, three jewelry stores in Santa Fe, and a jewelry production shop in Zuni.  Federal agents also executed a search warrant at a jewelry store in Calistoga, California.  Three federal seizure warrants also were executed on bank accounts in a Charlotte, North Carolina bank and a San Francisco, California bank.  In addition, the Philippines National Bureau of Investigations conducted a series of investigative interviews at two factories in Cebu City, Philippines.

Ali and Manasra were charged in October 2015, in a four-count indictment with conspiracy to violate the IACA and three substantive violations of the Act.  A superseding indictment was filed in March 2016, charging Ali and Manasra with conspiracy and substantive violations of the IACA, mail fraud, and wire fraud.  The superseding indictment charged Ali, the owner of two jewelry stores, Gallery 8 and Galleria Azul, in Albuquerque’s Old Town specializing in Native American jewelry, and Manasra, a wholesaler of Native American jewelry, with violating IACA by conspiring to import and fraudulently sell Filipino-made jewelry as Native American-made.

Officials called the sentencing part of an ongoing “landmark” investigation bringing overdue recognition to the problem.

Ali owns several retail stores; one of which is Gallery 8 in Albuquerque’s Old Town.

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