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Press Release

California Man Pleads Guilty To Misrepresenting His Jewelry As Produced By An Indian

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Andrew Gene Alvarez, 60, of Wofford Heights, Calif., pleaded guilty this morning to a misdemeanor information charging him with misrepresenting that jewelry he made and offered for sale was made by an Indian.  After entering his guilty plea, Alvarez was sentenced to 30 months of probation to be followed by a year of supervised release.  As part of his sentence, Alvarez is prohibited from representing that any jewelry he produces is of Indian origin or Indian produced. 

Alvarez was indicted in Sept. 2012, and charged with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1159, by falsely representing that jewelry he made and offered for sale was produced by an Indian.  According to the indictment, Alvarez made these misrepresentations in May 2011, during the Native Treasures Show at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center.

According to court filings, the FBI initiated an investigation into Alvarez in May 2010, after receiving a referral from the Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB) of the U.S. Department of the Interior.  The IACB asserted that Alvarez was a prominent jeweler who represented himself as alternatively Mescalero, Apache, Colville and Mayo Indian and marketed his jewelry at the Santa Fe Indian Market, as well as nationally at high-profile Indian arts and crafts events.   The IACB also asserted that after due inquiry, it determined that Alvarez was not an enrolled member of a recognized Native American tribe who was entitled to market his work in any manner which suggested that his work was an Indian product.

In May, 2010, Alvarez registered as an exhibitor at the Native Treasures Indian art show in Santa Fe and identified himself as “Andrew Redhorse Alvarez” and as a “Colville/Apache” Indian.  During the art show, Alvarez told an FBI agent who did not identify himself as a law enforcement officer that his father was Colville and his mother was Apache.  Thereafter, the FBI agent learned that Alvarez told an IACB employee that his heritage was Mescalero Apache, Colville and Mayo during the Santa Fe Indian Market in Aug. 2010. 

In May 2011, an FBI agent and a National Park Service criminal investigator made an undercover purchase of jewelry from Alvarez at the Native Treasures show in Santa Fe, where the program specified Alvarez’s tribal affiliation as Colville/Apache and his artistic medium as jewelry. While the officers examined Alvarez’s jewelry, they engaged Alvarez in conversation about his tribal affiliation, the nature of tribal registration, his family background, the Native American jewelry business and the Indian Arts and Crafts Act.  When the criminal investigator purchased three pieces of jewelry from Alvarez, Alvarez included three of his business cards on which he had written descriptions of the jewelry and his purported tribal affiliation as “Apache/Colville.”

Court records reflect that Alvarez’s birth certificate identifies both his parents as White with no reference to Indian blood or ancestry.  Other official records reflect that Alvarez’s maternal grandparents are of Mexican descent.

The Indian Arts and Crafts Act 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.  It is a “truth-in-advertising law designed to prevent products from being marketed as ‘Indian made, when the products are not, in fact, made by Indians as defined in the Act.”  The Indian Arts and Crafts Board was created by the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1935 to promote the economic development of American Indian and Alaska Natives through the expansion of the market of authentic Indian arts and crafts products.

The case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the National Parks Service and the Department of the Interior’s Indian Arts and Crafts Board, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. Spiers.

Updated January 26, 2015