Former gallery owner charged over fake Alaska Native artwork
A former Anchorage business owner is being charged with selling items he claimed were made by Alaska Native artisans, but he allegedly carved himself.
The office of Alaska U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced its case Thursday against 58-year-old Lee John Screnock, who once owned the Arctic Treasures Art Gallery on Fourth Avenue. Screnock is being charged with misrepresentation of Indian produced goods and products, as well as two alleged violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
As late as June, Screnock's store allegedly had hundreds of items for sale that he had carved but claimed were created by Native artists. The two Marine Mammal Protection Act violations stem from claims that Screnock knowingly had a polar bear skull and a walrus oosik available for purchase.
Screnock no longer owns Arctic Treasures. State records show another person took ownership of the store in June.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If convicted, Screnock could face a sentence of up to five years in prison along with a fine of up to $250,000.
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.