New Mexico AG sues over counterfeit Indian jewelry

By Chris Rizo | Sep 2, 2008

Gary King (D)

SANTA FE, N.M. (Legal Newsline)-The New Mexico attorney general Tuesday sued two retailers for allegedly selling counterfeit Indian jewelry.

Attorney General Gary King sued Golden Bear Trading, Inc. and Santa Fe Indian Jewelry for allegedly selling jewelry they fraudulently claimed was made by Navajo artist Calvin Begay.

"The sale of fraudulently represented Indian art is a huge problem in New Mexico. Conservative estimates suggest that at least 50 percent of what is being sold as authentic Indian handmade art is manufactured by non-Natives, in many cases from foreign countries," King said in a statement.

The Santa Fe, N.M., retailers were accused of violating the New Mexico Indian Arts and Crafts Sales Act, the Unfair Practices Act, and for fraud or negligent misrepresentation in the sale of jewelry.

The attorney general's office said Golden Bear Trading and its two principals, Mohammed "Mike" Sulieman Shawabkeh and Jamal "Jack" Sulieman Shawabkeh, on three occasions in the last year sold five pieces that were falsely represented as having been made by Begay.

In the second case, Yousef Nassar, doing business as Santa Fe Indian Jewelry, is accused of selling four pieces of jewelry that were falsely represented as having been made by Begay.

The lawsuits also claim the two retailers gave discounts on the pieces that were in violation of state regulations governing pricing and price advertising of Indian jewelry.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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