California man convicted for illegally importing ancient mosaic

The ancient mosaic depicts the Roman demigod Hercules which is believed to be 2,000 years old. Photo: US Dept. of Justice

By SDCN Editor

Los Angeles, CA–A federal jury in Los Angeles convicted a California man Wednesday for illegally importing from Syria an ancient mosaic depicting the Roman demigod Hercules that is believed to be 2,000 years old, federal prosecutors said.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, in August 2015, Mohammed Yassin Alcharihi, 56, of Palmdale, illegally imported the mosaic – which dates from the era of the Roman Empire and is of Syrian origin – by claiming that he was importing various items worth $2,199. However, the mosaic was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The false classifications occurred months after the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution condemning the destruction of cultural heritage in Syria, particularly by the terrorist organization Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and Al-Nusrah Front.

Alcharihi was convicted of one count of entry of falsely classified goods. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 31 and faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison. The government is also seeking forfeiture of the mosaic. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI’s Art Crime Team and Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles’ Ventura Division investigated the case.

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