PALMDALE— The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles charged a Palmdale resident on Friday, July 24 for allegedly importing an ancient mosaic unlawfully.

Yassin Alcharihi, 53, has been charged with one count of entry of goods falsely classified. The mosaic in question depicts the Roman god Hercules and experts believe it to have been made nearly two millennia ago.

“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 release states.

The government is pursuing forfeiture of the mosaic, which was seized by FBI and HSI agents in 2016. They have been working on retaining the piece since May of 2018 which states in the original complaint: “The complaint alleges that the mosaic was imported into the United States with paperwork indicating that it was part of a shipment of vases and mosaics worth only about $2,200, but Alcharihi later admitted paying $12,000 for the items. Preliminary estimated values for the mosaic at issue in this case are much higher, according to the complaint.”

The United States currently has certain restrictions when dealing with archaeological and ethnological material imported from Syria.

Alcharihi will receive summons to United States District Court for his arraignment projected to take place in the 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.