Thursday, February 21, 2013

Defendant Cooperates in Korean Currency Plate Case


Wong Young Youn, charged with violations of the National Stolen Property Act (NSPA) for allegedly receiving and transporting a stolen Korean Hojo currency plate, is cooperating with federal authorities. His testimony supported the February 12, 2013 arrest of James Amato in Michigan. Amato is the owner of Midwest Auction Galleries. Both defendants' cases are before the federal district court in Detroit.

Amato is charged with two counts of violating the National Stolen Property Act (NSPA 18 U.S.C. § 2314 and 18 U.S.C. § 2315) and with making a materially false statement and providing a false document knowing the same to contain a materially  false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or entry in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001.
 
The Hojo currency plate is said to be one of three currency plates in existence from the 1890's.
Court records allege that Amato sold the currency plate in 2010 to Youn for $35,000 despite efforts by the Korean Embassy and the U.S. State Department to warn them that the sale could violate the NSPA.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) issued a customs summons to Midwest Auction Galleries on June 29, 2012. In response, the gallery "provided an invoice stating the item  was  purchased  by  'Weng Liang' of 'Hunan, China,' for $9,990, according to an HSI affidavit filed with the court this month. The affidavit reveals that Youn allegedly told HSI officials in January that he himself bought the currency plate and that he does not know a person named Weng Liang.

All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until the prosecution proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

This post is researched, written, and published on the blog Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire at culturalheritagelawyer.blogspot.com. Text copyrighted 2012 by Ricardo A. St. Hilaire, Attorney & Counselor at Law, PLLC. Any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission of this post is prohibited. CONTACT: www.culturalheritagelawyer.com