LOS ANGELES – A Palmdale resident was charged today with illegally importing a mosaic depicting the Roman god Hercules that is believed to have been made nearly two millennia ago.
Yassin Alcharihi, 53, was named in an indictment that charges him with one count of entry of goods falsely classified.
The indictment alleges that Alcharihi claimed he was importing a mosaic and other items valued at $2,199, when in fact he was importing an ancient mosaic worth more than that. The indictment also alleges that he misrepresented the quality of the mosaic and what the artwork depicted.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Alcharihi will receive a summons to appear for an arraignment in United States District Court for an arraignment that will likely take place next month.
This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Art and Antiquity Investigations group and Homeland Security Investigation’s Los Angeles Public Safety Group.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mark A. Williams and Matthew W. O’Brien of the Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section, and Justice Department Trial Attorney Ann Marie Ursini of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section.
The government is pursuing forfeiture of the mosaic, which was seized by FBI and HSI agents in 2016, in both the indictment and a 2018 asset forfeiture complaint being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Katharine Schonbachler.