court documents say norman golb may have been involved in the raphael golb dead sea scrolls scandal

Raphael and Norman Golb

Raphael Golb (left) and his father, University of Chicago historian Dr. Norman Golb. Raphael Golb is charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, identity theft, impersonation, and aggravated harassment of several Dead Sea Scrolls scholars. Court documents filed by the New York District Attorney's office offer email evidence that Norman Golb knew about the internet smear campaign, and offered assistance in the form of talking points to Raphael Golb.

according to the new york district attorney’s office, there is direct email evidence in the case against raphael golb to suggest that raphael golb’s father, university of chicago oriental institute historian norman golb, as well as raphael golb’s brother, joel, may have been involved in raphael golb’s campaign of deception and defamation. raphael golb stands accused of multiple misdemeanor and felony counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, and aggravated harassment in a case involving the use of internet aliases to harass, impersonate, and steal the identity of new york university professor dr. lawrence schiffman and other dead sea scrolls scholars.

the publicly accessible ‘affidavit in support of an application for a search warrant,’ contains a section entitled ‘potential involvement of others’ (§72-81, p. 20-21) that offers hard evidence in the form of emails sent between father and son that show that norman golb and his sons discussed strategies to evade discovery of their identities, arguments to be made in online postings pertaining to the dead sea scrolls, and criticisms of dead sea scrolls exhibitions. there is also evidence suggesting that raphael golb’s online activities attracted media attention and inquiries by journalists, which were directed back to norman golb.

you may read the new york district attorney’s filing below:

(you may also view a catalog of the legal filings pertaining to the case of the people of the state of new york vs. raphael golb at all font colors, bold facing, and other emphases below are mine. the original document is here.)


72. Because I request that the search warrant authorize the search for evidence involving potential accomplices or co-conspirators, I provide the following facts in support of this request.

73. As indicated previously, bank records indicate that Raphael Golb received payments from Dr. Norman Golb. It is not known what the payments were for. The father-son relationship means that there are many innocent explanations for these payments.

74. Email records of certain alias email accounts associated with Raphael Golb indicate communication with Joel Golb (his brother) and Norman Golb (his father).

75. For example, a June 17, 2008 email between (an alias of Raphael Golb) and (the Germany email account of Joel Golb) indicates discussion about the use of proxies,10 and discusses a Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit that was opening in North Carolina.
10 The use of an internet proxy is a method of disguising one’s IP address.

76. Another example is a November 4, 2007 email between (an alias of Raphael Golb) and (the Germany email account of Joel Golb) which contains discussion about an outline to use concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls, with the subject “scrap last outline—use this instead (dad phoned with some suggestions). Since Norman Golb is the father of both Joel Golb and Raphael Golb, this email implies that Norman Golb called Joel Golb, gave suggestions to the outline, which Joel Golb passed on to Raphael Golb in this email. This also implies that both Joel Golb and Norman Golb know that Raphael Golb is using at least some internet aliases.11
11 Again, this affidavit does not imply that the mere use of internet aliases constitutes a criminal offense.

77. Another example is a January 18, 2008 email between (an alias of Raphael Golb) and (the Germany email account of Joel Golb) which discusses keeping emails anonymous and untraceable, and some confusion about which alias will be used to send emails from NYU computers.

78. There is email correspondence between Raphael Golb’s alias accounts and Dr. Golb, however it never overtly acknowledges a partnership. However Raphael Golb alias accounts have forwarded to Dr. Norman Golb email exchanges that the alias account (or another alias account) had with third parties.

79. For example, on August 15, 2007, email account (an alias of Raphael Golb) sent email account (email account of Dr. Norman Golb) an email that forwarded a communication between and an employee at the LA Times concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls. A search of the internet, including Dr. Norman Golb’s faculty webpage, indicates that is Dr. Norman Golb’s email account.

80. On March 31, 2008, email account (an alias of Raphael Golb) sent three successive emails to email account (email account of Dr. Norman Golb). These three successive emails appear to be revisions of the prior emails, and while formal in tone, the successive emails do not reference the preceding emails. In otherwords, if they did not know each other well, one would expect some sort of acknowledgment or apology for sending successive similar emails. These March 31, 2008 emails invite Dr. Norman Golb to correspond with the individual that email account had been corresponding with, and includes a copy of the prior correspondence.

81. On July 15, 2008, email account (an alias of Raphael Golb) sent email account (email account of Dr. Norman Golb) an email that forwarded a communication between (another alias of Raphael Golb) and a professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This email pertained to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

==end of court document==

i really have no further commentary, other than to acknowledge that my worst fears are being realized. according to the court filings, norman golb apparently knew what raphael golb was doing, and was assisting him in doing it. i should point out that it was the (paragraph 80 above) that sent my ucla nelc department chair an email anonymously chastising me for my work on the ancient qumran: a virtual reality tour movie i created for the san diego natural history museum, and other emails questioning whether i should receive my ph.d. for my research, which did not agree with the theories of norman golb. if norman golb was sent copies of this email from raphael golb, this would mean that norman golb (an employee of the university of chicago) had knowledge of his son’s activities on the internet. when this hard email evidence collected by authorities is considered along with the similarity of many of the hand signed letters from norman golb to many of the emails sent by the aliases, the evidence appears to demonstrate that norman golb was involved with this smear campaign.

more to follow…

7 Responses

  1. This is more than a typical case of identity theft, since in the academic world an identity may be the most valuable assett someone owns, taking perhaps decades to create and expand.

    I wonder if the statutes take this into consideration, or treat this case like any other identity theft for purely financial gain.

    My primary concern with the affidavit is the many allegations of aliases without presenting evidence, something that usually requires a court order to obtain. How did the writer know, for example, that “” was an alias for R. Golb, and how do we know that is correct? Anyone could have created that Yahoo account, Yahoo itself would know only the claimed identity of that user, and even if subpoened could not provide the actual identity beyond any reasonable doubt.

  2. brian, thanx for your comment.

    you are correct in your observation: in scholarship, reputation and credibility are the coin of the realm. while it is difficult to quantify reputation and credibility, the fact that golb went to the lengths he did (i.e., impersonation, forgery, etc.) to harm dr. schiffman is disturbing, and as we now see, criminal.

    the affidavit is a request for a search warrant. the da’s office would have to show the evidence to the judge, who grants the search warrant based upon probable cause. the judge was convinced, and sure enough, the evidence appears to support the involvement of raphael golb and his father, norman golb, in the smear campaign. i managed to collect the ip address information using publicly available tools online. i also harvested ip addresses from the headers of emails that golb sent to my faculty. the da’s office managed to confirm this and more by apparently comparing the ip addresses with user and billing information from golb’s various internet service providers.

  3. It makes sense that only the DA could get the information from the ISP(s) involved, usually they won’t release that information without a court order, or at least a law enforcement request.

    Of course IPs can be spoofed quite easily, and I would think an expert witness to that effect would be sufficient to place “reasonable doubt” in the minds of a jury.

    But this probably wasn’t used a “primary” evidence, but rather led the DA in the right direction to obtain more solid evidence, placing the issue beyond *any* doubt.

    Had the Golbs been more aware of how IP networks operate, they would have been able to hide their tracks, it’s fortunate that they were not CS experts.

    Much thanks for your sleuthing, and for sending the results to the appropriate authorities.

  4. it’s been a long 3.5 years! no, raphael wasn’t aware of ip addresses until too late. the fact that i was able to trace them to his home and then to the bobst, and then to multiple machines at the bobst shows him getting smarter re: ip addresses. he ultimately realized that if he used gmail accounts instead of yahoo accounts, he could better disguise his identity. he also didn’t discover vpn and dynamic ip addresses until long after we were onto him. that might be what he and joel were discussing.

    he just didn’t know.

    thanx again for the note. -bc

  5. […] oh. you mean like this? (see section 72-82 entitled ‘potential involvement of others’) are you really […]

  6. […] court documents say norman golb may have been involved in the raphael golb dead sea scrolls scandal (dec 18, 2009) […]

  7. […] convicted felon, Dr. Norman Golb, has been shown in publicly available court documents (here and here) to not only have known about his son’s smear campaign, but to have actively participated in […]

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