A New Yorker at the center of a bizarre row over the Dead Sea Scrolls faces up to four years in prison after being convicted of smearing Biblical scholars who disagreed with his father.
A jury declared 50-year-old Raphael Golb guilty late Thursday on charges of identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, harassment and unauthorized use of a computer.
Golb amassed the unholy rap sheet when he used dozens of email aliases to promote his father’s theories on the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are considered to be the earliest surviving form of the Bible, and to undermine those of his father’s rivals.
“Using fictitious identities to impersonate victims is not what open academic debate seeks to foster,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.
“It is true that the vast majority of identity thieves seek to steal their victims’ money, but in some cases identity thieves maliciously intend to damage their victims’ reputations and harass them, while cowering in anonymity. Such was the case here.”
Golb faces a sentence between probation and one to four years in prison. Sentencing is on November 18.
He was convicted of using New York University School of Law’s computers to mask his true identity during the campaign.
Many scholars believe the scrolls, found in the Qumran caves, were produced by an ancient sect known as the Essenes.
Golb’s father, Norman Golb, who is a professor of Jewish history at the University of Chicago, argues that the Essenes had nothing to do with the scrolls, which were instead the product of ancient Israeli communities.
The professor’s son sought to undermine the rival scholars, for example by opening email accounts in their names and, in at least one case, purporting to admit, under a professor’s stolen identity, to plagiarism.