imageDETROIT —The owner of an Oxford, Mich., auction house was arrested Tuesday (Feb. 12, 2013) by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations for allegedly making false statements and on charges of transporting and selling a Korean artifact.

James Amato, 50, of Oxford, Mich., was arrested without incident at his residence after being charged in a federal arrest warrant with making false statements, transportation of stolen goods and for the sale or receipt of stolen goods, ICE officials said.

Amato is the second suspect to be arrested following a two-year investigation into the sale of a Hojo currency plate from 1893. Won Young Youn was arrested Jan. 9 in Fort Lee, N.J., on similar charges, according to ICE officials. Youn remains free on bond and has a preliminary hearing April 17.

According to the investigation, Amato, the listed owner of Midwest Auction Galleries, allegedly sold the currency plate in 2010 to Youn for $35,000. Amato sold the plate on behalf of the family of a deceased American serviceman, who reportedly brought it back to Michigan after a tour of duty in the Korean War.

While the item was listed for sale and before Youn’s purchase, Amato and Youn were contacted by officials with the Korean Embassy and the U.S. State Department, and advised that the sale of the item could be in violation of the National Stolen Property Act.

After the sale, HSI launched an investigation into the item, which experts believe is one of three currency plates still in existence from the 1890s. The currency plates ushered in modern currency printing methods in Korea.

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