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Guilty plea entered in Morrisseau art forgery case

By Adam Riley Dec 5, 2023 | 10:00 AM

One of the accused involved in an art forgery ring has pleaded guilty to two of four charges against him.

Gary Lamont appeared in a Thunder Bay courtroom Monday and pleaded guilty to one count of forgery and one count of defrauding the public over $5000.

The 61 year old, along with 8 others, were charged in March of this year following a near three year joint investigation by the Thunder Bay Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police into fraudulent paintings claimed to have been made by renowned Indigenous artist, Norval Morrisseau.

Also known as Copper Thunderbird, Morrisseau was from Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek located near Beardmore and had developed a Woodland School of Art style unique to him.

Prior to his death in 2007, allegations began to emerge of people who were creating and selling art under his name and made in his distinctive style.

More than 1,000 forged paintings have been seized through the investigation, however authorities believe thousands more were created.

When police initially laid the charges they stated:

If you believe you may be in possession of a suspected forgery or fraudulent work of art, it is recommended that you seek legal advice by contacting a lawyer or the Law Society of Ontario, which operates the Law Society Referral Service. This service provides a free half-hour consultation with a lawyer.

The Crown has informed the court it will be seeking a forfeiture order of the seized paintings and victims will be advised of their right to seek relief from that forfeiture.

Those who were a victim of the fraud will be given an opportunity to submit victim impact statements, and there is the possibility of a community victim impact statement prepared by elders.

Two other charges against Lamont will be withdrawn by the Crown at a hearing set for December 14th, which is also where facts and sentencing submissions will also be heard.