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FEDERAL prosecutors charged a New York art dealer with tax fraud in connection with the sale of paintings she claimed to be the works of celebrated abstract expressionists, but some of which the government said were fakes.

Glafira Rosales, 56, faces three counts of filing false tax returns and five counts of concealing a Spanish bank account from the Internal Revenue Service.

Prosecutors said Rosales hid at least $12.5 million of income between 2006 and 2008. If convicted, the Mexican native faces up to five years in prison on each charge related to the bank account.

Tuesday’s charges mark a turning point in an unusual case that, according to prosecutors and court papers, had its origins in the 1990s, when Rosales began selling dozens of previously unknown works by celebrated artists such as Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.

Many of these works were in fact counterfeit, according to art experts cited by the government and lawsuits against dealers that sold some works from Rosales. One dealer, M. Knoedler & Co, shut down in 2011 after 165 years in business.

Rosales was arrested on Tuesday at her home in Sandy Point, New York. She was expected to appear on Tuesday afternoon in Manhattan federal court.

Steven Kartagener, a lawyer for Rosales, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

According to the indictment, Rosales reaped $14.7 million by selling to Knoedler and another gallery about one dozen works she said were by artists such as de Kooning, Pollock and Rothko.

Prosecutors said Rosales claimed to represent a Swiss client or a Spanish collector, neither of whom existed, but instead kept most proceeds and transferred large sums to her boyfriend at the time.

Chris Sabian is a portrait artist with http://www.kutefineart.com and owner of http://www.paragonprints.co.uk

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