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New York Art Dealer Spared Prison in 80 Million Dollar Counterfeit Scheme

Mar 13, 2017

New York, NY(Law Firm Newswire) March 13, 2017 – A New York art dealer who conned two Manhattan galleries by selling dozens of fake paintings avoided a lengthy prison sentence. She claimed her abusive ex-boyfriend was “the true mastermind” of the $80 million scheme that spanned 15 years.

Glafira Rosales, 60, said she agreed to trick dozens of art experts only because she was scared of her former boyfriend, Jose Carlos Bergantiños Diaz. The defense argued Diaz allegedly threatened Rosales’ life and abused her whenever she tried to back out of the scheme. She also feared being separated from her daughter, according to court documents.

“Although Ms. Rosales’ actions were legally voluntary, it appears her former boyfriend was calling the shots behind the scenes, telling her how to market the counterfeits,” said Peter Brill, a New York City criminal defense attorney with Brill Legal Group, who is not involved with the case. “The court rightfully recognized that her actions arose from fear and coercion rather than any criminal intent.”

Rosales and Diaz schemed to sell more than 60 counterfeit paintings between 1994 and 2009. They were marketed to galleries as previously unknown pieces by artists including Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. Prosecutors said Chinese artist Pei-Shen Qian from Queens had forged all the paintings under Diaz’s command.

In 2013, Rosales pleaded guilty to charges that included conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and tax crimes. She served three months in prison following her initial arrest. A federal judge sentenced her to time served for her role in the fraudulent art sales that resulted in the closure of New York City’s oldest gallery, Knoedler & Co. She will be subject to three years of supervised release including 90 days of home detention.

The sentencing guidelines had suggested a prison sentence of 151 to 181 months. Arguing that Diaz had forced Rosales to assist him, her lawyer asked for leniency. A prosecutor did not object to the request for time served, saying Rosales had cooperated with investigators by providing key evidence, such as how and where the fake paintings had been created.

Diaz was arrested in 2014 in Spain, but his extradition to the United States has been denied. Authorities believe Qian fled to China.

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