The Delaware man accused of stealing a thumb from a terracotta warrior statue that was on display at a Philadelphia museum in 2017 has been sentenced this week.
What happened: Michael Rohana, 29, took home the left thumb of the statue known as “The Cavalryman” at The Franklin Institute on Dec. 21, 2017. At the time, the museum was one of two U.S. sites selected by the Chinese government to host the statues as part of a traveling exhibit.
Rohana, who was attending the museum’s “Ugly Sweater Party” for Christmas, was allegedly drunk when he broke into the then-closed exhibit. After taking selfies with the statues, he touched one more and pulled its left thumb, breaking it off.
The former department store shoe salesman stuffed the thumb in his pocket and fled the area. It took two weeks before authorities realized that the fragment was missing.
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The aftermath: After hearing about the statue, China demanded “severe punishment.” “The Cavalryman,” one of the few fully restored terracotta figures in the world, is insured at $4.5 million.
Rohana was initially charged with theft of a major artwork from a museum, concealment of a major artwork stolen from a museum and interstate transportation of stolen property — crimes that could have landed him up to 30 years in jail. After a mistrial, he was charged with one count of an archaeological resource in interstate commerce, a misdemeanor he pleaded guilty to earlier this year.
The sentence: Nearly six years after his alleged drunken act, Rohana was sentenced on Thursday to five years of probation. Additionally, he must pay $5,000 in fines, complete 100 hours of community service and pay restitution to The Franklin Institute, its insurer and the museum from which the statue had been on loan, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The amount of that restitution has yet to be determined.
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What he is saying: Rohana apologized to his family and the Chinese government, expressing regret for his actions.
“Through all of this, I’ve earned a huge respect for these archaeological items. They are not to be messed with, broken, or damaged,” he said.
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