NY Court of Appeals Upholds Raphael Golb’s Conviction on 29 of 30 Counts

Still Guilty - Raphael Golb

Dr. Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, was found guilty on 30 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer in the Criminal Division of the New York Supreme Court, September 30, 2010. On January 29, 2013, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department upheld the convictions on 29 of 30 counts for which Golb was convicted.

Word from the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department this evening is that a three-judge panel ruled unanimously to uphold the convictions on 29 of 30 felony and misdemeanor counts for which Raphael Golb was convicted in 2010.

In November of 2010, the Criminal Division of the New York Supreme Court found Dr. Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, guilty of 30 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer.

Prior to the trial, Golb turned down a plea bargain agreement in which he would have pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, paid a fine, served 80 hours of community service, and been placed on three years probation.

Instead, Golb was convicted of 2 felony counts and 28 misdemeanors, and was sentenced to six months in prison and five years of probation, in addition to incurring the cost of a jury trial defense and an appeal.

The Court of Appeals issued this decision:

People v Golb
2013 NY Slip Op 00436
Decided on January 29, 2013
Appellate Division, First Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

Decided on January 29, 2013
Mazzarelli, J.P., Renwick, Richter, Gische, Clark, JJ.
9101 2721/09

[*1]The People of the State of New York, Respondent,
v
Raphael Golb, Defendant-Appellant.

Ronald L. Kuby, New York, for appellant.
Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., District Attorney, New York (Vincent
Rivellese of counsel), for respondent.

Judgment, Supreme Court, New York County (Carol Berkman, J.), rendered November 18, 2010, convicting defendant, after a jury trial, of identity theft in the second degree (2 counts), criminal impersonation in the second degree (14 counts), forgery in the third degree (10 counts), aggravated harassment in the second degree (3 counts), and unauthorized use of a computer, and sentencing him to an aggregate term of six months, unanimously modified, on the law and facts, to the extent of vacating the identity theft conviction under the first count of the indictment and dismissing that count, and otherwise affirmed. The matter is remitted to Supreme Court, New York County, for further proceedings pursuant to CPL 460.50(5).

One of the two felony counts was vacated and dismissed, but the Appellate Division unanimously denied Golb’s appeal and reaffirmed the guilty verdict on the other 29 counts, including one felony.

The chart below (updated from the who-is-charles-gadda.com website) lists each charge, conviction, and appellate decision of the convicted felon Raphael Golb.

CHARGE
DATE
CHARGE
SUMMARY
VERDICT (Sept. 30, 2010)
APPEAL DECISION (Jan. 29, 2013)
1. 7/1/2008 – 12/31/2008 PL 190.79(3). Identity theft in the second degree
(E-CLASS FELONY) (1 of 2 counts)
Assumed identity of Lawrence Schiffman and committed/attempted to commit felony of Scheme to Defraud 1st Degree.
GUILTY
Vacated and Dismissed
2. 7/1/2008 – 12/31/2008 PL 190.79(3). Identity theft in the second degree
(E-CLASS FELONY) (2 of 2 counts)
Assumed identity of Lawrence Schiffman and committed/attempted to commit felony of Falsifying Business Records 1st Degree
GUILTY
UPHELD
3. 8/1/2008 – 12/31/2008 PL 240.30(l)(a) Aggravated harassment in the second degree
(1 of 3 counts)
Aggravated harassment of Dr. Lawrence Schiffman
GUILTY
UPHELD
4. 8/3/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(1 of 14 counts)
Created larry.schiffman@gmail.com email account
GUILTY
UPHELD
5. 8/4/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(2 of 14 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffrnan@gmail.com to Dr. Schiffman’s students
GUILTY
UPHELD
6. 8/4/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(1 of 10 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffrnan@gmail.com to Dr. Schiffman’s students
GUILTY
UPHELD
7. 8/5/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(3 of 14 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to multiple NYU email addresses
GUILTY
UPHELD
8. 8/5/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(2 of 10 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to multiple NYU email addresses
GUILTY
UPHELD
9. 8/5/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(4 of 14 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYU Dean Stimpson
GUILTY
UPHELD
10. 8/5/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(3 of 10 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYU Dean Stimpson
GUILTY
UPHELD
11. 8/5/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(5 of 14 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYU provost
GUILTY
UPHELD
12. 8/5/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(4 of 10 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYU provost
GUILTY
UPHELD
13. 8/6/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(6 of 14 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYUNews.com, forwarding email from Provost office.
GUILTY
UPHELD
14. 8/6/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(5 of 10 counts)
Sent email from larry.schiffman@gmail.com to NYUNews.com, forwarding email from Provost office.
GUILTY
UPHELD
15. 11/22/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(7 of 14 counts)
Created email account seidel.jonathan@gmail.com
GUILTY
UPHELD
16. 11/22/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(8 of 14 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com to Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
GUILTY
UPHELD
17. 11/22/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(6 of 10 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com to Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
GUILTY
UPHELD
18. 11/24/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(9 of 14 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com to Risa Kohn (ROM’s curator for Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit)
GUILTY
UPHELD
19. 11/24/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(7 of 10 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com to Risa Kohn (ROM’s curator for Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit)
GUILTY
UPHELD
20. 11/24/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(10 of 14 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com regarding Norman Golb
GUILTY
UPHELD
21. 11/24/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(8 of 10 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com regarding Norman Golb
GUILTY
UPHELD
22. 12/6/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(11 of 14 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com regarding Stephen Goranson internet post
GUILTY
UPHELD
23. 12/6/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(9 of 10 counts)
Sent email from seidel.jonathan@gmail.com regarding Stephen Goranson internet post
GUILTY
UPHELD
24. 7/1/2008 – 12/31/2008 PL240.30(l)(a) Aggravated harassment in the second degree
(2 of 3 counts)
Aggravated Harassment of Stephen Goranson
GUILTY
UPHELD
25. 8/7/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(12 of 14 counts)
Created email account steve.goranson@gmail.com
GUILTY
UPHELD
26. 7/20/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(13 of 14 counts)
Created email account frank.cross2@gmail.com
GUILTY
UPHELD
27. 7/20/2008 PL 190.25(1) Criminal impersonation in the second degree
(14 of 14 counts)
Sent email from frank.cross2@gmail.com regarding Bart Ehrman and the Jewish Museum
GUILTY
UPHELD
28. 7/20/2008 PL 170.05. Forgery in the third degree
(10 of 10 counts)
Sent email from frank.cross2@gmail.com regarding Bart Ehrman and the Jewish Museum
GUILTY
UPHELD
29. 6/1/2007 – 3/1/2009 PL 240.30(l)(a) Aggravated harassment in the second degree
(3 of 3 counts)
Aggravated harassment of Robert Cargill
GUILTY
UPHELD
30. 7/1/2008 – 3/1/2009 PL 156.05 Unauthorized use of a Computer
(1 count)
Unauthorized use of NYU computers to commit criminal offenses and otherwise in violation of NYU computer use policy
GUILTY
UPHELD

The rest of the appellate court’s decision reads as follows:

Defendant’s convictions arise out of his use of emails to impersonate actual persons. Nothing in this prosecution, or in the court’s jury charge, violated defendant’s First Amendment or other constitutional rights.

Defendant is the son of an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Defendant set up email accounts in which he pretended to be other scholars who disagreed with defendant’s father’s opinion on the origin of the Scrolls. Among other things, defendant sent emails in which one of his father’s rivals purportedly admitted to acts of plagiarism.

Defendant’s principal defense was that these emails were only intended to be satiric hoaxes or pranks. However, as it has been observed in the context of trademark law, “[a] parody must convey two simultaneous – and contradictory – messages: that it is the original, but also that it is not the original and is instead a parody” (Cliffs Notes, Inc. v Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub. Group, Inc., 886 F2d 490, 494 [2d Cir 1989]). Here, the evidence clearly established that defendant never intended any kind of parody. Instead, he only intended to convey the first message to the readers of the emails, that is, that the purported authors were the actual authors. It was equally clear that defendant intended that the recipients’ reliance on this deception would cause harm to the purported authors and benefits to defendant or his father.

The court’s charge, which incorporated many of defendant’s requests, fully protected his constitutional rights, and the court was not required to grant defendant’s requests for additional instructions. The court carefully informed the jury that academic discussion, parody, satire and the use of pseudonyms were protected by the First Amendment.

The court also ensured that the jury understood the terms “fraud” and “defraud” by [*2]expanding their definition and advised the jury that “without the intent to deceive or defraud as to the source of the speech with the intent to reap a benefit from that deceit, there is no crime.” The court was under no obligation to limit the definitions of “injure” or “defraud” – terms used in the forgery and criminal impersonation statutes – to tangible harms such as financial harm (see People v Kase, 76 AD2d 532, 537-538 [1st Dept 1980], affd 53 NY2d 989 [1981]). The court also properly employed the statutory definition of “benefit” as “any gain or advantage” to defendant or to another person (Penal Law § 10.00[17]).

Defendant argues that it is constitutionally impermissible to include an intent to influence a constitutionally-protected academic debate within the concept of fraud, injury or benefit, that allowing injury to reputation to satisfy the injury element would effectively revive the long-abandoned offense of criminal libel, and that, in any event, the alleged truth of the content of the emails should have been permitted as a defense. However, the evidence established that defendant intended harm that fell within the plain meaning of the term “injure,” and that was not protected by the First Amendment, including damage to the careers and livelihoods of the scholars he impersonated. Defendant also intended to create specific benefits for his father’s career. The fact that the underlying dispute between defendant and his father’s rivals was a constitutionally-protected debate does not provide any First Amendment protection for acts that were otherwise unlawful.

Defendant was not prosecuted for the content of any of the emails, but only for giving the false impression that his victims were the actual authors of the emails. The First Amendment protects the right to criticize another person, but it does not permit anyone to give an intentionally false impression that the source of the message is that other person (see SMJ Group, Inc. v 417 Lafayette Restaurant LLC, 439 F Supp 2d 281 (SD NY 2006]).

We have considered and rejected defendant’s remaining arguments concerning the court’s charge. We similarly reject his claims that the statutes under which he was convicted were unconstitutionally vague or overbroad. None of these statutes was vague or overbroad on its face or as applied (see People v Shack, 86 NY2d 529, 538 [1995]; Broadrick v Oklahoma, 413 US 601, 611-616 [1973]). The People were required to prove that defendant had the specific fraudulent intent to deceive email recipients about his identity, and to obtain benefits or cause injuries as a result of the recipients’ reliance on that deception. The statutes criminalized the act of impersonation and its unlawful intent, not the content of speech falsely imputed to the victims.

The verdict was based on legally sufficient evidence and was not against the weight of the evidence, with the exception of the identity theft conviction under the first count. The theory of that count was that in the commission of identity theft in the second degree (Penal Law § 190.79[3]), defendant attempted to commit the felony of scheme to defraud in the first degree [*3](Penal Law § 190.65[1][b]). However, there was no evidence that defendant intended to defraud one or more persons of property in excess of $1,000 or that he attempted to do so (see id.). The People’s assertions in this regard rest on speculation.

THIS CONSTITUTES THE DECISION AND ORDER
OF THE SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION, FIRST DEPARTMENT.

ENTERED: JANUARY 29, 2013

CLERK

(emphases mine)

If Dr. Golb stays true to form, he will almost certainly appeal this again, perhaps in some other jurisdiction. If nothing else, this case has demonstrated that certain people have tremendous difficulty putting down the shovel after digging themselves into a hole.

Still, I am pleased with the court’s decision. While the wheels of justice turn slowly, and afford the guilty every possible avenue of defense, the process has demonstrated that it works in the end.

“Myth of a Christian Nation” Question of the Day

I have a question regarding the myth that the United States was founded as a

I have a question regarding the myth that the United States was founded as a “Christian nation”.

Following up on Piers Morgan’s debate with Rick Warren, here’s your “Myth of a Christian Nation” question of the day.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Thus, in the U.S., you can worship any god you want to worship, and this is legal, acceptable, and protected by the Constitution.

However, Deuteronomy 13:12-16 says the following:

Deut. 13:12 If you hear it said about one of the towns that the LORD your God is giving you to live in,
Deut. 13:13 that scoundrels from among you have gone out and led the inhabitants of the town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods,” whom you have not known,
Deut. 13:14 then you shall inquire and make a thorough investigation. If the charge is established that such an abhorrent thing has been done among you,
Deut. 13:15 you shall put the inhabitants of that town to the sword, utterly destroying it and everything in it—even putting its livestock to the sword.
Deut. 13:16 All of its spoil you shall gather into its public square; then burn the town and all its spoil with fire, as a whole burnt offering to the LORD your God. It shall remain a perpetual ruin, never to be rebuilt.

Now, we have heard many Christians say that the laws of the Old Testament have been “nailed to the cross” and are no longer binding. For instance, despite the fact that Lev. 11:10-12 clearly states that the children of God cannot eat shellfish:

Lev. 11:10 But anything in the seas or the streams that does not have fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and among all the other living creatures that are in the waters—they are detestable to you
Lev. 11:11 and detestable they shall remain. Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall regard as detestable.
Lev. 11:12 Everything in the waters that does not have fins and scales is detestable to you.

Christians will argue that Peter’s vision in Acts 10 “trumps” this law, allowing Christians to eat food previously deemed “unkosher”.

Acts 10:13 Then he heard a voice saying, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.”
Acts 10:14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.”
Acts 10:15 The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.”

Likewise, despite the fact that Exodus 20:8-10 – one of the 10 Commandments no less – clearly states that one should not work on the Sabbath,

Ex. 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.
Ex. 20:9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
Ex. 20:10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.

the NT gospel of Mark 2:27-28 states:

Mark 2:27 Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath;
Mark 2:28 so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

and Christians use this text to argue that even though at one time God had people PUT TO DEATH for so much as picking up sticks on the Sabbath (cf. Num. 15:32-36:

Num. 15:32 When the Israelites were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the sabbath day.
Num. 15:33 Those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses, Aaron, and to the whole congregation.
Num. 15:34 They put him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him.
Num. 15:35 Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him outside the camp.”
Num. 15:36 The whole congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. )

despite this, Christians no longer have to keep the Sabbath.

So, because the NT “overrides” the OT, the laws in the OT don’t have to be kept anymore.

EXCEPT, of course, for those laws that are NOT overridden, or better yet, those that are REITERATED and RESTATED by none less than Jesus himself, well, THOSE laws (like condemning homosexuals in Lev. 18:22 and Lev. 20:13 AND in Rom. 1:26–27, 1 Cor. 6:9–10, and 1 Tim. 1:9–10) – these OT laws are to be KEPT and ENFORCED by Christians, because the condemnation was repeated in the NT.

Got all that?? So here’s my question:

Where in the NT does Jesus say it’s OK to worship other gods?

Where does Paul say it? Where does Peter say it? I mean, if we’re supposedly a “Christian nation”, and Deuteronomy 13:12-16 clearly states that anyone who worships another god must be put to death – THEY AND THEIR ENTIRE TOWN!! – because another god was worshiped somewhere in the land, and if not one, but three of the 10 Commandments clearly state:

Ex. 20:3 you shall have no other gods before me.
Ex. 20:4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
Ex. 20:5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,

then there must be someplace in the NT where Jesus or Paul or SOMEBODY says it’s OK to worship other gods (IF, that is, we’re a “Christian nation”.) Right? It must be there in the NT, because religious plurality would CLEARLY violate the commands of the eternal, omnipotent, infallible, inerrant God who clearly spells out in no uncertain terms that we’re NOT supposed to worship other gods, and yet our nation has legislated, nay, our nation was founded on the idea of religious plurality. That is, our nation is founded on a principle that is directly contradictory to one of the most fundamental biblical Christian principles: worship only God.

So it must be in there somewhere.

So where is it?

I can’t find it in Matt. 4:10:

Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”

I don’t see it in Matt. 22:36-38:

Matt. 22:36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
Matt. 22:37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
Matt. 22:38 This is the greatest and first commandment.

I don’t read it in 1 Cor. 10:14:

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.

So WHERE IS IT EXACTLY that the NT authorizes our United States of America to protect those who worship other gods from the very punishments prescribed and authorized by the Bible against those who do so??

(And if the founding document of the U.S. is going legislate AGAINST the first 4 Commandments, then how again were we established as a “Christian Nation”?)

(Or, could it be that our nation was established with some laws that happen to be congruent with some Christian teaching (as well as with many other religions’ and philosophies’ teachings), but was NOT established as a “Christian nation”, especially given the fact that many of the founders were avowed Deists who believed in the existence of a god – a “grand architect of the universe” – but one who revealed himself through the strict physical laws of the universe – Deists who openly chastised Christians and Christianity for its reliance on miracles and mythology that contradicted the very fixed physical principles of nature they felt revealed the nature of God?)

But I digress. Let’s stick to the initial question: Where in the NT does it authorize our United States of America to protect those who worship other gods, when the OT clearly condemns it, IF we were founded as a “Christian nation”?


For more on this topic, read my earlier post: we were NOT founded as a christian nation: thoughts on article 11 of the u.s. treaty with tripoli

Also check out nonstampcollector’s (blog, YouTube) video, which makes a similar point:

Comments welcome.

the double standard

The sign of a modern, intellectual society is not its tolerance for free expressions of speech, but the consistency by which it tolerates various forms of free speech. Likewise, the sign of a sound faith in a credible system of beliefs is the manner in which it responds to criticism. Those that respond violently to questions and criticisms about their religious beliefs betray the uncertainty of their own convictions. However, those who entertain rational discourse and admit the inherent problems within all systems of beliefs demonstrate a confidence that unsettles many who insist upon their certitude.

ht: jim west

transportation security administration to block certain websites from employee computers

Email from TSAthe transportation security administration sent out an email today notifying employees that access to certain websites at work would begin to be limited. the sites are deemed ‘inappropriate for government access’ and include the following:

  • Chat/Messaging
  • Controversial opinion
  • Criminal activity
  • Extreme violence (including cartoon violence) and gruesome content
  • Gaming

so is this an infringement on free speech (not that government workers surfing the web is speech in any way, shape, or form? or is it a government agency trying to get their employees to work?

a quick few observations:

  1. aren’t these work computers? what on earth are tsa employees doing gaming or chatting on work computers? and is this why my luggage always gets mis-routed in the philadelphia airport? on this one, i’m with the tsa. get to work and stop facebooking. facebook will drain all of your time and energy.
  2. sites with ‘controversial opinions’ are banned. who makes this determination? what is a ‘controversial opinion’? who makes that determination? are controversial opinions those from conservatives? liberals? those that are critical of the obama administration? i’m with the employees on this one.
  3. pornography isn’t on the list?? how is pornography not on this list? government employees can’t play bubble spinner but they can browse porn? to quote casablanca, ‘captain renault big sister is getting broad-minded.’

what do you think?

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