if you’re not guilty, why offer to plead guilty?

Raphael Golb

Raphael Golb is accused of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, identity theft, impersonation, and aggravated harassment.

question: if you’re not guilty, why offer to plead guilty? why did raphael golb’s attorney offer a plea deal where raphael golb would plead guilty to lesser misdemeanor charges? according to the new york district attorney’s affirmation in response to the defense’s omnibus motion,  p. 2, fn 2, raphael golb’s attorney offered to have raphael golb plead guilty to all counts if the more serious felony counts were reduced to misdemeanors. apparently, the new york district attorney’s office declined.

2 Defendant’s gratuitous comment that “the People dragged their heels for more than 3 months before they indicted this matter” makes for entertaining reading, yet is inaccurate and invites a response. See Defendant’s Affirmation p. 2, par 5. First, the Criminal Procedure Law provides for speedy trial time periods, the People are well within these limits, and defendant cites no legal authority regarding his complaint of “foot dragging”. Thus defendant’s comment is without any legal basis. Second, the comment is without any factual basis. Defense counsel’s own requests to resolve this case with a misdemeanor guilty plea were one factor that helped delay the indictment. Given that defendant requested a misdemeanor plea offer, he should have been pleased that the People didn’t seek an indictment immediately. Finally, defendant is aware of the complexity of this case, voluminous search warrant material recovered on the date of arrest, and some of the results of the digital evidence examination. Thus, this matter was presented to the Grand Jury after careful consideration, planning, and preparation.

this raises the question: why did raphael golb(‘s lawyer) offer to plead guilty to lesser charges?  if you are guilty of misdemeanor counts in the case, you are still guilty! if you committed a crime, you committed a crime, whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony.

again, as the evidence continues to comes out, the truth of the golbs’ entire campaign of deception and defamation is being laid bare.

text of raphael golb’s police interview immediately following his arrest

Raphael Golb

Raphael Golb, accused of multiple counts of forgery, identity theft, aggravated harassment, and impersonation

the following is the transcript of raphael haim golb’s interview with new york police immediately following his march 5, 2009 arrest.

the following information is a portion of publicly available documents associated with the case of:

‘the people of the state of new york vs. raphael golb’ (indictment no. 2721/2009, docket no. 2009ny018004).

  • doc: people’s voluntary disclosure form
  • date: march 5, 2009
  • time: 10:46 am to 12:36 pm
  • location: n.y. co. district attorney’s office, ecab
  • substance: see exhibit b: summary of defendant’s video statement

EXHIBIT B

SUMMARY OF DEFENDANT’S VIDEO STATEMENT

A FEW MONTHS AGO, I HEARD AT A DINNER PARTY, THAT A PROFESSOR AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, LAWRENCE SCHIFFMAN, SAID THAT I WOULD HAVE LEGAL PROBLEMS BECAUSE I AM USING FALSE NAMES. I THINK HE FILED A FALSE COMPLAINT AGAINST ME.

THERE’S A CHAPTER IN MY FATHER’S BOOK, WHO WROTE THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS, ABOUT LAWRENCE SCHIFFMAN. IT DESTROYS SCHIFFMAN’S THEORY. IT SHOWS THAT SCHIFFMAN PLAGIARIZED MY FATHER AND THAT SCHIFFMAN MISREPRESENTED HIS THEORIES. AN ARTICLE CAME OUT ON THE INTERNET – I DIDN’T WRITE THAT ARTICLE.

SOMEBODY PUBLISHED SOMETHING ON THE INTERNET. APPARENTLY DR. SCHIFFMAN BELIEVES IT’S ME AND HE’S FILED A COMPLAINT AGAINST ME. THE REASON HE’S FILING A COMPLAINT AGAINST ME IS TO GET BACK AT MY FATHER. IT’S OUT OF MALICIOUSNESS TOWARDS MY FATHER. HE CAN’T GET BACK AT MY FATHER FOR HIS BOOK SO HE’S GETTING AT HIS SON.

I WON’T ANSWER WHETHER I HAVE POSTED ANY ARTICLES ON THE INTERNET ABOUT THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS. I WON’T ANSWER BECAUSE I THINK SCHIFFMAN IS OUT TO GET MY FATHER. HE MIGHT SUE ME.

THERE WAS AN ARTICLE CALLED SOMETHING, SOMETHING WITH PLAGIARISM IN IT, SCHIFFMAN, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, THAT’S ALL I REMEMBER. BUT IF YOU READ THAT ARTICLE, YOU’LL SEE THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST SCHIFFMAN. YOU’VE SEEN THAT THEY WERE RAISED BY AN ISRAELI JOURNALIST. THIS WAS IN MY FATHER’S BOOK. EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT THIS.

MY SITUATION IS THAT I FEAR THAT DR. SCHIFFMAN COMPLAINED AGAINST ME. I FIND HIM TO BE A VERY FRIGHTENING PERSON FOR VARIOUS REASONS. HE DESTROYED THE CAREER OF MY FATHER’S BEST STUDENT, MICHAEL WISE. HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO AND THERE WAS THIS CONFERENCE ON THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS IN NEW YORK. I DON’T REMEMBER WHAT YEAR, 1992 OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. I WENT TO THE CONFERENCE. MY FATHER ORGANIZED THIS CONFERENCE WITH ANOTHER PROFESSOR AND IT WAS THE FIRST CONFERENCE EVER HELD ABOUT THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS IN WHICH THEY INVITED PEOPLE WITH A DIFFERENT OPINION. THE CONFERENCES ABOUT THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS ARE USUALLY MONOPOLIZED BY PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE SAME VIEW AS SCHIFFMAN. SO MY FATHER ORGANIZED A CONFERENCE AT WHICH PEOPLE WHO HAD DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW WOULD DEBATE THE EVIDENCE FOR THE FIRST TIME. AROUND THAT TIME STUDENT OF MY FATHER HAD PUBLISHED A BOOK WITH ANOTHER PROFESSOR IN CALIFORNIA.

THEY MOUNTED THIS CAMPAIGN. SCHIFFMAN WROTE A PRESS RELEASE. HE CONTACTED JOURNALISTS AND PUT A STATEMENT OUT ABOUT THIS BOOK OF MY FATHER’S STUDENT. SMEARING HIM, ATTACKING THE BOOK SAYING THAT IT WAS UNETHICAL AND ALL KINDS OF STUFF, WHICH IT WASN’T. THEY ACCUSED HIM OF BIBLIOGRAPHIC INACCURACIES – NOT CITING SOURCES. HE WAS ON TRACK TO GET TENURE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO AND HE DIDN’T GET IT.

AM I ANGRY AT DR. SCHIFFMAN? I’M MY FATHER’S SON. I’M ESPECIALLY ANGRY WITH DR. SCHIFFMAN IF HE FILED THIS COMPLAINT AGAINST ME. I FIND THE GUY A BIT NAUSEATING TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH. I KNOW THAT HE WOULD STOP AT NOTHING TO GET AT MY FATHER.

FOR YEARS I’VE DONE GOOGLE SEARCHES FOR MY FATHER’S NAME. IT’S FILLED WITH ALL KINDS OF SMEARS AGAINST MY FATHER FOR YEARS.

I THINK I MIGHT ONCE HAVE POSTED A REMARK ON THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS USING MY OWN NAME, A LITTLE REMARK ABOUT A MUSEUM EXHIBIT OR SOMETHING. MAYBE THREE YEARS AGO.

THERE’S BEEN A WHOLE SERIES OF MUSEUM EXHIBITS ABOUT THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS WHERE THEY’VE BEEN EXCLUDING THE VIEWPOINT OF SOME. DR. SCHIFFMAN KEEPS APPEARING AT THESE MUSEUM EXHIBITS, SPEAKING AT THEM, GIVING LECTURES AT THEM. MY FATHER HAS ATTACKED THEM IN A SERIES OF ARTICLES ON THE ORIENTAL WEBSITE.

THESE PEOPLE ARE OBVIOUSLY DEEPLY ENRAGED AT MY FATHER AND THEY ARE VERY WORRIED. THEIR TACTIC WITH RESPECT TO MY FATHER INITIALLY WAS SIMPLY TO IGNORE HIM. THEN THEIR TACTIC WAS THAT HE WAS AN ISOLATED PERSON. HE WAS ONLY ONE PERSON, WHO WAS ENTITLED TO HAVE HIS POINT OF VIEW.

ALL OF THESE PEOPLE HAVE EXCLUDED MY FATHER FROM THESE MUSEUM EXHIBITS. AND THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE AFRAID OF. THEY’RE AFRAID THAT THEY ARE GOING TO BE OBLIGED TO STOP DOING THAT. TO START PRESENTING THE TRUTH TO THE PUBLIC THAT THERE WERE TWO DIFFERENT THEORIES. THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED AT THE JEWISH MUSEUM. THE JEWISH MUSEUM SAW WHAT WAS GOING ON AND THEY HAD AN EXHIBIT. I DIDN’T GO TO IT. BUT MY FATHER WROTE A REVIEW OF IT BECAUSE THEY SUPPLIED HIM WITH ALL THE MATERIAL. I BELIEVE DR. SCHIFFMAN SPOKE AT THAT, BUT I WASN’T THERE.

I’D RATHER NOT GET INTO WHETHER I HAVE POSTED BLOGS ABOUT THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS USING NAMES OTHER THAN MY OWN, FOR FEAR OF LAWSUITS.

I NEVER PRETENDED TO BE LAWRENCE SCHIFFMAN, I NEVER OPENED AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN HIS NAME, I NEVER SENT EMAILS PRETENDING TO BE HIM. I NEVER AUTHORED A BLOG ACCUSING DR. SCHIFFMAN OF PLAGIARISM. I READ IT, BUT DIDN’T WRITE IT.

I DIDN’T OPEN AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN THE NAME OF STEPHEN GORANSON. I THINK I KNOW WHO HE IS – SOMEBODY SMEARING MY FATHER. I THINK HE IS A VERY SAD CASE. I DON’T THINK HE HAS AN ACADEMIC POSITION. I THINK THAT HE’S ONE OF THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST MY FATHER FOR MANY YEARS GOING BACK TO THE 1990’S.

I’D RATHER NOT GET INTO WHETHER I HAVE EVER OPENED UP EMAIL ACCOUNTS IN NAMES OTHER THAN MY OWN. I’D RATHER NOT GET INTO MY NICKNAMES. I’D RATHER NOT GET INTO WHETHER I BLOGGED UNDER THE NAME CHARLES GADDA. WHOEVER WROTE BLOGS UNDER THE NAME CHARLES GADDA HAS A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO WRITE BLOGS UNDER THE NAME CHARLES GADDA.

FAMILY MEMBERS PROBABLY DON’T WANT PEOPLE MAKING FUN OF THEIR PARENTS, POSTING THINGS ON THE INTERNET.

ROBERT CARGILL COMPLAINED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO TO GET MY FATHER’S ARTICLE ABOUT HIS FILM REMOVED FROM THE WEB SITE. HE WAS ATTACKED. I’D RATHER NOT GET INTO WHETHER I DID ANY BLOGS ABOUT ROBERT CARGILL.

I AM SORRY FOR DR. SCHIFFMAN IF SOMEONE OPENED AN EMAIL ACCOUNT USING HIS NAME. BUT THAT WASN’T ME. OBVIOUSLY I DON’T LIKE PEOPLE WHO SMEAR MY FATHER, WHO PLAGIARIZE MY FATHER, WHO MISREPRESENT HIS VIEWS. IT’S VERY FRUSTRATING. I MEAN HE DID IT IN HIS BOOK AND EVERYTHING. IT WAS FRUSTRATING. I WOULDN’T OPEN UP AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN HIS NAME.

IF I HAD AN INTEREST IN THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS SCANDAL, IT WOULD BE MUSEUM EXHIBITS.

I WENT TO HARVARD UNIVERSITY AND NYU LAW SCHOOL AND OBERLIN COLLEGE. I’VE BEEN WRITING A BOOK ON THE FRENCH OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS. I DO REAL ESTATE LAW. I LIVE AT 206 THOMPSON ST. I AM A LAWYER AND AUTHOR.

I HAVE INTERNET AT HOME. MAYBE ON OCCASION I HAVE ACCESSED THE INTERNET AT NYU. WHEN I AM AT THE BOBST LIBRARY. I AM WRITING A BOOK AT BOBST LIBRARY. I HARDLY EVER CHECK MY EMAILS AT NYU. I LIVE RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER FROM THE PLACE. WHEN I GO THERE, IT’S TO WORK ON MY BOOK. I HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY TIMES I’VE USED THE NYU COMPUTERS. I USE THEM BECAUSE I DON’T FEEL COMFORTABLE WRITING MY BOOK AT HOME. I STORE MY BOOK ON A MEMORY STICK.

I DON’T WANT TO GET INTO HOW MUCH I KNOW ABOUT THE INTERNET. I DON’T KNOW WHAT AN INTERNET PROTOCOL ADDRESS IS.

MY BROTHER IS JOEL GOLB. HE HAS A SNAFU EMAIL ACCOUNT. MY EMAIL ACCOUNT IS RAPHAEL.G AT GMAIL.COM MY FATHER’S EMAIL ADDRESS IS N-GOLB@UCHICAGO.EDU. MY FATHER DOESN’T BLOG. I DON’T WANT TO GET INTO WHETHER I DID IT FOR MY FATHER. I DON’T WANT TO BE SUED BY LAWRENCE SCHIFFMAN. I AM NOT INVOLVED IN OPENING UP EMAIL ADDRESSES IN SCHIFFMAN’S NAME AND I AM NOT INVOLVED IN BLOGGING ABOUT SCHIFFMAN. TO MY KNOWLEDGE, JOEL GOLB IS NOT INVOLVED IN BLOGGING ABOUT SCHIFFMAN, BUT ASK HIM. I HAVE COMMUNICATED WITH JOEL GOLB AND MY FATHER ABOUT THESE BLOGS. I WON’T GET INTO THE POSTING OF THE BLOGS. IT WAS NOT MY BROTHER JOEL WHO OPENED THE LARRY.SCHLFFMAN EMAIL ACCOUNT AS FAR AS I KNOW. I CAN’T SEE MY FATHER DOING IT. THAT WOULD BE PREPOSTEROUS. I’M SURE DR. SCHIFFMAN HAS LOTS OF ENEMIES

I’M NOT GOING TO ANSWER WHETHER THE CHARLES GADDA ALIAS IS ME. IF IN THEORY I WERE CHARLES GADDA, THAT FACT WOULD BE USED TO SMEAR MY FATHER. THEY WOULD SAY THAT MY FATHER IS DOING IT OR ASKING ME TO DO IT. MY FATHER CERTAINLY NEVER ASKED ME TO DO ANYTHING OF THE KIND. NOR WOULD HE ENCOURAGE ME OR APPROVE OF ME DOING ANYTHING LIKE THAT. HE MIGHT NOT APPROVE OF SOME OF THE THINGS THAT CHARLES GADDA HAS SAID. CHARLES GADDA HAS EMPHASIZED RELIGIOUS ASPECTS OF THE DEAD SEA SCROLL SCANDAL. MY FATHER’S PERSPECTIVE ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND THIS WHOLE THING IS THAT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN PROTECTING A THEORY. HE’S A SCIENTIST. HIS INTEREST IS IN A SCIENTIFIC PROBLEM.

FRANK CROSS IS A FAMOUS DEAD SEA SCROLLS SCHOLAR. I DON’T BELIEVE I OPENED AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN HIS NAME. PETER KAUFMAN – IS THAT THE NAME OF THE PERSON WHO PUBLISHED THE ARTICLE ABOUT SCHIFFMAN ON THE NOW PUBLIC BLOGSITE? I’M NOT GOING TO GET INTO WHETHER I OPENED AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN HIS NAME.

JEFFREY GIBSON? THERE’S A WEBSITE CALLED ALIASES OF JEFFREY GIBSON. I BELIEVE JEFFREY GIBSON IS IN CHICAGO AND HE IS INVOLVED IN SOME BIBLICAL STUFF. I DIDN’T OPEN AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN HIS NAME

IF I WERE INTERESTED IN THIS, IT’S WITH RESPECT TO MUSEUM EXHIBITS AND NOT DR. SCHIFFMAN. I SUSPECT THERE’S SOMEONE WHO HATES HIM AND DECIDED TO GIVE IT TO HIM AND USED THE PLAGIARISM TO DO IT. THERE COULD BE PEOPLE ALL OVER NEW YORK WHO DISLIKE HIM.

I DON’T KNOW A JONATHAN SEIDEL. I DIDN’T OPEN AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN HIS NAME, TO MY MEMORY.

UNDER THE SUPPOSITION THAT I PUBLISHED ARTICLES ABOUT CARGILL’S FILM, THAT WAS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING ABOUT A SERIOUS MATTER INVOLVING MISCONDUCT IN THE MUSEUM BY A PROFESSOR AT UCLA.

==end of transcript==

oh… so you were just kidding this whole time

Raphael Golb

Raphael Golb, accused of multiple counts of forgery, identity theft, aggravated harassment, and impersonation

direct from the ‘you have got to be kidding me’ wing of the lawyering hall of shame comes this, as reported by the chronicle of higher education on november 7, 2009:

A novel legal argument is being used to defend a New York man accused of stealing identities and using them to send e-mail messages and make online comments designed to discredit his father’s academic rivals over their interpretations of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Associated Press reports. The defense lawyer for the accused man, Raphael Golb, says that most of the charges against his client should be dismissed because to uphold them would imperil pranks, parodies, blog comments made under assumed names, and other freewheeling elements of the Internet. Mr. Golb has pleaded not guilty to charges of identity theft and criminal impersonation, in a case originally detailed in The Chronicle. His lawyer, Ronald Kuby, said in court filings this week that whoever sent the messages under other people’s names — and it wasn’t his client — was putting on an “intellectual prank” protected by the First Amendment.

where does one begin? we knew golb and his defense would attempt to turn this into a soapbox for a referendum on his father’s views. we knew that he would attempt to prove his ridiculous accusations were ‘true’ by trying to drag up a bunch of conspiracy nonsense in a trial. we even knew that he would attempt to argue that identity theft and impersonation were protected under the first amendment right to free speech. we expected all this.

what we didn’t expect was for golb’s defense to use a ‘it was a joke’ defense. how would that even sound? how does one claim that a two-year campaign of harassment and defamation ultimately resulting in impersonation, forgery, and identity theft was just a ‘prank’? well, perhaps the defense would sound something like this:

[and yes, the following is a parody of what a ‘just kidding’ or ‘intellectual prank’ defense might sound like. the actual defense may differ, and the following parody in no way purports to be the actual words of raphael golb or his attorney]

you thought i was serious?? ha ha ha ha! oh man, aaahhhh, sorry. i was just kidding. it was just a prank. i was just foolin’.

sorry about impersonating you, dr. schiffman. i was just kidding. man, you should have seen the expression on your face. lol. boy, did you get punk’d. when i wrote to your grad students and wrote in the first person and pretended to be you from an email address i created that bore your name, dude, i was totally joking. when i confessed to a crime you didn’t commit on your behalf, i wasn’t bein’ serious. everyone knew i was totally kidding. dude, all those nyu administrators and your colleagues that i spammed accusing you of plagiarizing my daddy, i was so totally just kidding. i wasn’t serious. you had to know it was just an intellectual joke. i just know we’re all gonna just look back at this whole thing and just laugh.

and sorry about that cargill. when i wrote to your faculty and questioned whether you should receive your phd, i was just joshin’. my bad. you had to know that my criticisms weren’t serious. i was just playin’. all those times i accused you of plagiarism and all those times i made fun of you for being a christian, and all those times i wrote to museums like toronto and tried to keep your research from ending up in museum exhibitions, dude, i was just kidding. i wasn’t trying to cause you actual fiscal damage. not at all! it was more like an episode of punk’d. me and ashton kutcher, we’re like this. and when my dad asked for a copy of your unpublished movie script, and you actually agreed to send it to him out of a sense of professionalism, even though he was a known critic?? boy, i could have warned you on that one, dude! you were so naïve! and when you put those warnings on the top of the script and in the email accompanying the script stating that absolutely no portion of your unpublished script could be reproduced, and dad still reproduced several passages online in a critique, dude, you should have totally seen that comin’. you can’t take dad’s criticisms seriously – for crying out loud, he can only ‘publish’ (and i use the term loosely) by self-publishing some rant he wrote and then slappin’ it up on the oriental institute website. no one ever publishes his nonsense anymore. besides, dad was only kidding! and when the oi lawyers removed his critique of your movie from the oi website, he knew you and your legal advisors were just kidding too. see, we were both just kidding around. but seriously cargill, it was all just a joke. i was just playin’ a prank. why are you harshin’ my mellow??

and sorry san diego natural history museum and north carolina museum of natural sciences and royal ontario museum. you thought i was really trying to drive down your ticket sales by criticizing your exhibitions? you thought i was trying to harm your bottom line when i wrote to journalists and encouraged them to investigate the ‘controversy’ that dad and i stirred up? you thought my critiques of your exhibitions were serious?? no, i was just playing a little prank. i wasn’t trying to drive away visitors and cost you actual dollars. i was jus’ keeeding.

and sorry bart ehrman about publishing private correspondence online. that was totally a joke. in fact, daddy and i got a real kick out of that one here in chicago over the holiday. you actually thought i was a real person?? ha ha ha.

and risa, wow, i don’t know what to say. you thought i was serious? you thought i was trying to harm your reputation and career? those letters i wrote to newspapers and journalists about you were simply parody. everyone knows i like to joke and kid. c’mon, you thought i was serious? i’m just like stephen colbert – there was totally an expectation of parody in my tone. everyone knows i’m a jokester. i wasn’t really trying to hurt you, i just wanted to make you laugh. it was all one big prank.

and david noel freedman, i know you’re dead and all, but when i criticized you and called you a fraud only days after your death, man, i’ll bet you were rolling over in your grave. i was sooo just kidding.

and bill schniedewind, when i was going onto your wikipedia page and accusing you of all sorts of stuff, dude, i was totally just playin’. i knew you’d see it was a joke, and that those ten different aliases were all me just trying to see how much crap i could get up on your page. and dude, you didn’t even fight back. you just took it. it was kind of a bummer, but it’s cool now bro, you know i was just pullin’ your chain.

[thus ends the parody.]

this is perhaps the most novel defense in recent history: he will literally stand up before a real judge in a real court and argue  ‘i was just kidding.’ i wonder if that same defense will work with some of the terrorists that golb’s attorney, ron kuby, defends:

[begin parody]

yes, i know i blew up that building, but me and the boys were just blowin’ off steam. we were just joking. it wasn’t meant to be serious…

[end parody]

if one’s defense is ‘it was just a prank,’ and said prank goes too far and breaks the law, then said prankster is responsible. the same is true for accidents that take place in vehicles when the driver is just ‘foolin’ around.’

again, i shake my head…

on recent news about the ‘cloak and browser’ case against raphael golb

Raphael (left) and Norman Golb

Raphael (left) and Norman Golb. Raphael Golb is accused of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, and aggravated harassment while using aliases to promote the views of his father, Dr. Norman Golb, and smear the names of his father's perceived opponents.

raphael haim golb was back in court on wed. nov. 3, 2009, providing the latest episode in the ever-enthralling ‘cloak and browser’ internet anonymity scandal involving the son of university of chicago historian norman golb, who impersonated another scholar and confessed to plagiarism in his name.

in his about new york column, new york times columnist jim dwyer wrote a nov. 6, 2009 piece about the raphael golb internet scandal entitled, ‘2,000-year-old scrolls, internet-era crime.’ likewise, the associated press wrote a summary of golb’s recent nov 4, 2009 court proceedings entitled, ‘lawyer claims parodies, pranks at risk in dead sea scrolls case.’ likewise, jennifer peltz of the associated press also wrote an article entitled, ‘ny case spotlights dead sea scrolls, fake e-mails‘ which appears on yahoo news. clearly, this case is important both for its implications regarding anonymity, impersonation, and identity theft on the internet, and its repercussions for scholarship within the academy.

and each day that this case drags on, university of chicago historian norman golb’s legacy and reputation becomes more associated with scandal, dishonesty, internet crime and academic fraud, and less associated with his life of scholarship. yet, raphael golb’s defense is insisting that golb’s actions are protected by the first amendment to the constitution.

recent proceedings in the case of the people of new york vs. raphael golb

while the recent press coverage of the golb scandal has been fair, it is relaying some claims by the defense that are misleading or simply not true.

for instance, in his new york times article, dwyer states:

For a while, no one knew that 50 different names in the Dead Sea Scrolls debate were the prolific Mr. Golb…

this is incorrect. i knew, as did a host of others. we all knew. i knew who it was. i tracked everything he did. the potential libel and defamation were civil matters, and i wanted an accurate log of everything golb did or wrote. but when he crossed the line and acted criminally by impersonating nyu professor dr. lawrence schiffman, i contacted schiffman (as i had done with several other scholars before him), told him who was behind it, and handed what i had collected over to the ny district attorney’s office.

======

another instance is the claim by raphael golb’s attorney, ronald kuby, that what golb did is commonplace. according to dwyer, golb’s lawyer:

argued that prosecutors were trying to criminalize the commonplace. Both sides in the Dead Sea Scrolls debate, they said, use “sock puppets” — fake identities — on the Internet to make it seem as if scores of people are arguing a point.

“These bloggers marshaled their legion of sock puppets to engage in intellectual combat with the sock puppets allegedly created by Raphael Golb and others,” the lawyers wrote.

XKV8R License Plate

XKV8R (excavator) is currently the California license plate for Dr. Robert Cargill's hybrid Toyota Prius

this statement contains multiple problems. first, where is the ‘legion of sock puppets’ about which golb’s attorney speaks? golb had over 80 aliases (‘alias’ defined as a pseudonym intended to mask the true identity of an author). we know the alias’ names. but to argue that golb was simply battling against other aliases is misleading. many on the internet have internet ‘user names‘, nicknames, or ‘handles’ (like old cb radio handles), but these are not intended to disguise identity. for instance one of my handles is bobcargill (all lower case, one word) – not really much of a disguise. all of the posts i make on this blog are done in the username of ‘bobcargill.’ my user name/handle on wikipedia is ‘xkv8r‘ (previously ‘israelxkv8r‘). again, this handle points to my wikipedia user page, which is complete with pictures and a full biography, making my identity easily known. additionally, the fact that xkv8r.com redirects to my bobcargill.com website, and serves as my california license plate number makes it quite clear exactly who i am.

however, this is not the case with raphael golb. on several occasions, golb vehemently protested discussion about his true identity on wikipedia, perhaps fearful that were his true identity to be made known, he would be the target of any number of civil lawsuits. likewise, raphael golb was always careful to not betray any privy knowledge of or communication with his father, norman golb, for were it ever shown that raphael golb was in direct communication with his father, it may pose the same potential problem for norman golb and his employer, the university of chicago. therefore, raphael golb went to a great lengths to conceal his identity. criminals usually don’t like it when victims know who is behind the mask. but, the rest of us on the internet are not concerned whether the public knows who we are. this is because we are not cowards, but are willing to stand behind the free speech we make.

there is another problem with this line of defense. sock puppets are unfortunately a reality on the internet. but, this does not make them appropriate or legal in certain contexts. for instance, wikipedia prohibits the use of sock puppets on their site. ironically, it was golb’s use of multiple sock puppets on wikipedia (‘critical_reader‘, ‘philip kirby,’ and ultimately ‘rachel.greenberg‘) that provided the final piece of evidence we needed to prove that all of the sock puppets were, in fact, tied to alias ‘charles gadda,’ and therefore to raphael golb. thus, sockpuppetry is not permitted on several of the forums in which raphael golb participated, and it was the reason golb was banished from wikipedia.

the use of aliases by raphael golb was not to promote free speech, but to disguise criminal activity!

======

another problem stems from the defense’s categorization of the crime. according to the associated press, golb’s lawyer, ronald kuby said:

“It’s usually very difficult to fit this into a (criminal) legal pigeonhole,”

the problem is: it’s not. again, golb is not being tried for the libel and defamation he spewed online against me and other scholars like risa levitt kohn, jodi magness, william schniedewind, stephen goranson, bart ehrman, david noel freedman, etc. those matters will be taken up in civil court after the conclusion of the criminal trial. golb is being tried for impersonation, identity theft, and aggravated harassment. the new york district attorney’s office rightly limited their charges to only those counts that specifically address criminal attempts to impersonate, harass, and steal the identity of lawrence schiffman, jonathan seidel, and stephen goranson. this means that the defense’s argument that

‘injury to a reputation is a civil matter, not a criminal violation’

is moot, because golb is not being charged for the civil crimes of defamation against me and others, rather, he’s being charged in the specific incidents of impersonation, aggravated harassment, and identity theft in the instance of schiffman, seidel, and goranson. while the defense attempts to blur the line between the civil matters and the criminal ones, the fact remains: it is not very difficult to ‘pigeonhole’ this criminal activity. raphael golb pretended to be lawrence schiffman in order to bring specific harm to him. in doing so, he impersonated him. impersonation is a crime. golb harassed schiffman in a most aggravated manner by writing a post using the alias ‘peter kaufman’ accusing dr. schiffman of plagiarizing his father, norman golb. (note: the nowpublic post by ‘peter kaufman’ has been removed by nowpublic, but that which raphael golb said about lawrence schiffman still exists in a cached web archive, and several blog posts, including this one, still remain online. coincidentally, golb used the alias ‘larryschiffman’ to post this blog.) aggravated harassment is a crime. raphael golb sent emails as lawrence schiffman, after signing up for email accounts and blog addresses in the name of lawrence schiffman. forgery is a crime. taking out an email address (lawrence.schiffman@gmail.com) and writing in the first person to confess to something and blogging in the name of lawrence schiffman is a crime. there is nothing ‘difficult’ about it.

======

golb’s lawyer argued:

the e-mail messages were transparent parodies, and that in any event, injury to a reputation is a civil matter, not a criminal violation.

this is simply not true. there is no expectation of parody or satire with raphael golb. in the case of known satirists like stephen colbert, or known parodists like saturday night live, there is an expectation of parody or satire. that is, it can be argued that this speech is protected under the first amendment right to freedom of speech. however, with the case of raphael golb, this is not the case. in fact, the opposite is true. raphael golb was not claiming parody, but was actively attempting to disguise his identity while making false, often harmful accusations against his father’s perceived opponents by hiding behind multiple aliases. at no point was there ever an expectation or acknowledgement of parody or satire. raphael golb attempted nothing less than to defame and professionally harm the careers of his father’s perceived rivals, and ultimately acted criminally by impersonating one of them, lawrence schiffman, in order to do so.

it is important to remember that the schiffman incident was not an isolated incident. rather, it was the criminal culmination of a pattern of behavior involving a well-organized, premeditated, campaign of deceit and influence that escalated from comments on message boards and discussion forums, comments on internet news items, nowpublic articles, blogs, infiltration of wikipedia pages, emails to a graduate student’s faculty questioning whether he should he should receive his degree, written letters to board members of museums, emails to journalists encouraging them to write about golb and the ‘qumran controversy,’ and ultimately the criminal impersonation of lawrence schiffman, which included forged letters to his graduate students and colleagues.

this was not parody. it was a one-sided assault on scholars that disagreed with norman golb and the museums that hosted dead sea scrolls exhibitions. his intent was to harm attendance at museum exhibitions and besmirch the reputations of people who had done nothing wrong other than disagree with norman golb’s minority opinions about qumran and the dead sea scrolls.

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the defense has taken another odd tactic, which demonstrates a lack of faith in their ‘free speech’ defense. according to peltz’ associated press article:

Golb contests sending the e-mails. But whoever did send them was just pulling an “intellectual prank” and expressing ideas protected by free speech rights, said Golb’s lawyer, Ronald Kuby.

golb is attempting to invoke the right of ‘free speech’ while not admitting to making the said ‘speech.’ despite knowing exactly who was immediately responsible for the claims of the ‘charles gadda,’ ‘peter kaufman,’ and other aliases, raphael golb has still not admitted that he was actually the one who sent the emails in schiffman’s name. perhaps this is why golb’s lawyer is attempting to have the statements made by golb at the time of his arrest thrown out. perhaps this is why golb’s lawyer is contesting the search warrant and the search executed on raphael golb’s home: despite all evidence to the contrary (and his father, norman golb’s multiple purported statements essentially confessing that his son is ‘charles gadda’), raphael golb still does not want to admit to sending the emails.

golb’s lawyer, ron kuby, is attempting to invoke a ‘free speech’ defense without admitting to the speech. which begs the question: how confident is raphael golb’s laywer, ron kuby, in his own defense? one would think that if this really were an attempt to argue on behalf of free speech, mr. kuby would say, ‘yes, my client, raphael golb, made these claims, but he is protected by his right to free speech.’ instead, mr. kuby is attempting to argue, ‘this is a case of free speech, but my client does not admit to making the statements (sending the emails) in question.’ kuby undermines the confidence of his own defense by not admitting to his client’s participation in the so-called protected ‘free speech.’

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ultimately, the central claim made by the defense is nothing more than a red herring (or to be technical in a rhetorical sense, an ignoratio elenchi). according to peltz’ associated press article, golb’s lawyer, ron kuby, stated:

“An attempt to influence a public, academic debate by e-mails and blog postings authored under assumed names cannot be an object of criminal” laws designed to protect people from fraud, threats or physical harm, Kuby wrote in papers filed this week.

this is a red herring. of course, attempting ‘to influence a public, academic debate by e-mails and blog postings’ is not criminal. this is what scholars do. and yes, attempting to influence a scholarly debate using arguments ‘authored under assumed names’ may or may not be ‘an object of criminal laws.’ however, this is not what raphael golb is accused of doing!! raphael golb is accused of intentionally posing as lawrence schiffman and admitting to something he did not do! raphael golb is accused of taking out email addresses in the name of lawrence schiffman and writing to schiffman’s students and colleagues in the first person. engaging in or attempting to influence a public, academic debate is not a crime, but, doing so using the names of known scholars, criminal impersonation, identity theft, aggravated harassment, and forgery certainly is.

raphael golb does not stand accused of attempting ‘to influence a public, academic debate by e-mails and blog postings’. this, and harassment, libel, and defamation caused by his actions are indeed the subject of a civil court, and will be deal with accordingly once the criminal trial is complete.

conclusion

raphael golb’s actions in this criminal case were not an isolated incident, nor were they a prank, satire, parody, or other kind of joke. this was a premeditated, well-coordinated, well-planned, methodical, two-year campaign of defamation, intimidation, and harassment, ultimately ending in impersonation and forgery, perpetuated by raphael golb against those he felt were his father’s opponents. his intent was to harm museum attendance and denigrate the reputations of scholars that disagreed with norman golb.

likewise, arguments that raphael golb had to use pseudonyms in order to protect against academic backlash are unfounded. when rachel elior’s minority theory about qumran and the essenes became public, it was widely refuted, but she suffered no harm to her career or reputation by personally addressing criticism on the internet and in the press. she simply participated in the academic process. this differs greatly from what appears to be golb’s approach, which apparently involved raphael doing the dirty work of attacking his father’s rivals, and norman golb siting back in his endowed chair at the prestigious university of chicago oriental institute, seemingly above the fray, and answering inquiries from media outlets most likely drummed up by his son, raphael.

it appears the entire campaign was designed to denigrate norman golb’s rivals, and keep golb’s name – and his theory – in the news. raphael golb went too far, and broke the law.

this is not about free speech, it’s about getting caught breaking the law.

top 10 strangest cases of identity theft

Raphael and Norman Golb

Raphael and Norman Golb

an article on listverse, a site that blogs every imaginable top ten list, has put together a top ten ‘bizarre cases of identity theft.’ according to the article:

Identity theft is not a new problem, and like any crime, there are always some cases that make you scratch your head in astonishment, and ask the obvious questions: “Why would someone even try this? How did they think they were going to get away with it?” And sometimes simply, “What the heck?”

the top ten were:

  • 10. the cheerleader (a 33-year-old woman stole her daughter’s identity to attend high school and join the cheerleading squad)
  • 9. todd davis (the ceo of an identity theft protection company that used his own social security number in adverts, a number that was then used to gain loans and cash by thieves)
  • 8. neighbors from hell (a couple that moved into a tight-knit neighborhood and stole identity information to use in petty crimes)
  • 7. ivy league impostor (a high school senior used the identity of a missing woman from south carolina to apply to, enroll in, and take classes at harvard)
  • 6. dr. no (a doctor that did not attend medical school stole the identities of several doctors to establish a medical practice)
  • 5. dead sea scrolls (the case of raphael golb, son of university of chicago historian norman golb, and his criminal impersonation of nyu professor larry schiffman to promote his father and defame schiffman)
  • 4. you’re how old? (a woman in the czech republic who stole the identities of several 13-year-old children and enrolled in schools as them)
  • 3. brooklyn busboy (a busboy used the internet to obtain access to the private finances of hundreds the richest people in america)
  • 2. stealing from himself (a man fakes his own death in an attempt to avoid credit card debt, and who was caught attempting to use his own identity to get a new driver’s license)
  • 1. catch him if you can (the subject of the 2002 movie, ‘catch me if you can,’ frank abagnale eluded authorities by posing as an airline pilot, doctor, assistant attorney general, and history professor)

i was glad to see the golbs make the list. it is one of the stranger things to happen in scholarship in a while.

new online legal tool helps you track criminal cases

eCourts

eCourts

as a scholar in the digital humanities, i try my best to keep readers informed about the newest technologies available to the public. i am especially attentive when the technology is readily available online, and even more so excited when it is free. so i was delighted to discover a new service readily available to the public domain offered by the new york state unified court system. their new software, ecourts, provides a free service called webcrims, which allows an internet reader to view new york state criminal proceedings of interest to the online reader. after entering a simple captcha spam guard, this service allows the reader to search for cases in the new york criminal justice system, read a summary of a pending case, including the defendant’s name, a record of the offending incident(s) and arrest, attorney information, next scheduled appearance, and sentencing information. the reader can also view a history of appearances in the court system, which provides details like whether or not a temporary order of protection has been issued in the case. perhaps most impressively, the reader can read a laundry list of charges brought by the people of new york against the accused. you can even subscribe to receive criminal case alerts using the etrack email alert system to make sure you don’t miss any of the proceedings in your favorite case.

all this technology is brought to you free of charge in the public domain by the good people of the state of new york, so give it a try.

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