Washington state man sentenced to 2 years for selling over $1M in fake Alaska Native artwork
A man from Washington state was sentenced this week to spend two years in federal prison for selling fake Alaska Native artwork in Ketchikan.
Cristobal “Cris” Magno Rodrigo, 59, pleaded guilty in April to one federal count of conspiracy and another count of misrepresentation of Indian-produced goods and products.
Judge Timothy Burgess sentenced Rodrigo on Monday to serve two years in federal prison, the longest a defendant has received for any Indian Arts and Crafts Act violation in the U.S., according to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board. Rodrigo is also ordered to pay nearly $54,204.81 in restitution, make a $60,000 donation to the Tlingit and Haida Central Council Vocational Program, write an apology to run in the Ketchikan Daily News, and serve three years of supervised release.
Between April 2016 and December 2021, Rodrigo and his family sold stone carvings and totem poles that were produced in the Philippines as authentic Alaska Native art at businesses in Ketchikan, according to a federal plea agreement. Through the course of the scheme, Rodrigo’s businesses, Alaska Stone Arts LLC and Rail Creek LLC, sold thousands of counterfeit carvings.
In 2019 and part of 2021, the companies sold more than $1 million of artwork produced in the Philippines and passed off as Alaska Native, according to a sentencing memorandum filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt.
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While Rodrigo lived in Washington state, he and his family owned and operated the Ketchikan businesses. Rodrigo Creative Crafts — a company in the Philippines owned by Rodrigo’s wife — contracted Filipino wood carvers to produce the carvings and totem poles that were shipped to the U.S. Rodrigo had more than 20 years of experience working at Alaska stores producing stone carvings and directed the workers on how to produce the art, the sentencing memo said.
The business also falsely represented employees as being part of an Alaska Native family business that used locally sourced materials, the sentencing memo said.
Rodrigo’s wife, Glenda Tiglao Rodrigo, 46, and son Christian Ryan Tiglao Rodrigo, 24, have also entered plea agreements. Their cases are ongoing.