California Man Arraigned in New Mexico on Federal Indictment Charging him with Scheme to Fraudulently Create and Sell Jewelry as Native American-Made
Defendant Allegedly Falsely Represented that his Counterfeit Jewelry was Created by the Late Charles Loloma, Renowned Master Hopi Artist
ALBUQUERQUE – Robert Haack, 51, of Los Angeles, Calif., was arraigned yesterday afternoon on a federal indictment charging him with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) by fraudulently creating and selling jewelry as Native American-made. The indictment, which was filed by a federal grand jury sitting in Albuquerque, N.M., on March 28, 2018, was the result of a federal investigation led by the U.S. Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement.
“This indictment is not only about enforcing the law, it is also about protecting and preserving the cultural heritage of Native Americans,” said U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson. “This case demonstrates our willingness to prosecute those who falsely market products as “Indian Made,” and thus undermine the livelihoods of Native American artists.”
“Every indictment filed under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act brings us closer to bringing justice to the Native American artists who are harmed by forgery and fraud in the marketplace,” said Edward Grace, Acting Assistant Director of the Office of Law Enforcement for the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. “We hope this and other indictments will deter further this type of harmful criminal activity. We thank the law enforcement agencies that supported us and partnered with us during this investigation.”
The six-count indictment charges Haack with two counts of wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud and two counts of violating the IACA. During yesterday’s arraignment hearing, which Haack participated in through video teleconferencing from California, Haack entered a not guilty plea to the indictment and was released on pretrial supervision and other conditions of release pending trial, which has yet to be scheduled.
According to the indictment, from April 4, 2013 through April 21, 2013, and from June 15, 2014 through June 20, 2014, Haack violated the IACA by displaying and offering for sale jewelry in a manner that suggested that it was Indian produced and the product of American Indian tribes. The indictment alleges that Haack defrauded the United States and its people of money by using the U.S. mail and wire communications to promote the sale of the counterfeit jewelry as Indian-made.
The indictment further alleges that from April 4, 2013 through June 20, 2014, Haack devised a scheme to defraud and to obtain money from others by using an online marketplace and online payment platform to advertise and sell counterfeit pieces of Indian jewelry that Haack falsely represented as having been created by the late Charles Loloma, a renowned Hopi Indian artist. According to the indictment, Haack allegedly created and produced the counterfeit jewelry in his home in Los Angeles and delivered the counterfeit jewelry to a purchaser in Albuquerque through the U.S. Postal Service.
The indictment includes forfeiture provisions, which seek to forfeit to the United States any proceeds used in or traceable to Haack’s alleged criminal activities, and seek a money judgment against Haack in the amount of at least $19,398.
If convicted of the charges against him, Haack faces a statutory maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine. Charges in indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer M. Rozzoni is prosecuting the case.
The IACA prohibits the offer or display for sale, or the sale of any good in a manner that falsely suggests that it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian and Indian tribe. The law is designed to prevent products from being marketed as “Indian made,” when the products are not, in fact, made by Indians. It covers all Indian and Indian-style traditional and contemporary arts and crafts produced after 1935, and broadly applies to the marketing of arts and crafts by any person in the United States. IACA provides critical economic benefits for Native American cultural development by recognizing that forgery and fraudulent Indian arts and crafts diminish the livelihood of Native American artists and craftspeople by lowering both market prices and standards.