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Son of Dead Sea Scrolls Scholar Faces Jail for Impersonating Father's Critic

(UPDATED) In spite of overturned law, state's highest court affirms sentence for man who sent fake emails in order to damage other scholars' reputations.

Update (July 15, 2014): Raphael Golb will serve jail time for harassing his father's academic rivals online, even after an appeals court struck down the aggravated harassment law under which he was charged.

The State Supreme Court in Manhattan upheld Golb's convictions on counts of criminal impersonation and forgery and ordered him to surrender July 22 for a two-month jail sentence, according to The New York Times (NYT). He will also serve three years' probation.

Golb had been free on bail while he appealed his 2010 sentence, the Associated Press reports.

Golb said that while he realized his online behavior—including sending email confessions of plagiarism from one of his father's rivals and writing fake blog posts—was "inappropriate," he thought the ruling unfair.

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney John Bandler said Golb's actions were more than annoying; they were a malicious attempt to "impersonate others and destroy their careers."

Golb was charged under a law which made it a crime to communicate with people "in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm," the NYT reports. The New York Court of Appeals struck down the law in May and the state legislature since passed a revised, narrower version.

Without the aggravated harassment charge, Golb, a disbarred lawyer, is charged with only misdemeanors and can reapply for his law license.

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Update (Feb. 17): The New York Times has an in-depth report on Golb's actions and sentence.

Raphael Golb, son of Dead Sea Scroll scholar Norman Golb, will head to jail as a result of his unorthodox methods of supporting his father: fraud, forgery, and harassment of another Dead Sea Scroll scholar, Lawrence Schiffman.

The case arose in 2009, when Raphael Golb created fake email accounts and a website to impersonate New York University's Schiffman, who disagreed with Norman Golb's views on the scrolls. Posing as Schiffman, Raphael Golb "espoused the views of Norman Golb and (again, as Schiffman) confessed to plagiarizing from Norman Golb."

Raphael Golb was originally sentenced in 2011, when a New York jury declared him guilty on 30 of 31 charges against him. He appealed the criminal conviction, arguing that he had been attempting to parody Schiffman.

The appellate court affirmed the lower court's ruling on 29 of the 30 convictions, throwing out a charge of identity theft.

CT has previously reported on the Dead Sea Scrolls, including an examination of why Protestants are so fascinated by the documents.

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Posted:January 15, 2014 at 3:12PM
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Son of Dead Sea Scrolls Scholar Faces Jail for Impersonating Father's ...