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Court of Appeals — Identity Theft: People v. Golb

New York State Court of Appeals

Identity Theft

Criminal Impersonation — Injury to Reputation

People v. Golb
No. 72
Judge Abdus-Salaam

Background: At issue is an Internet campaign by the defendant to attack the integrity and harm the reputation of other Dead Sea Scrolls academics and scholars, while promoting the views of his father. The defendant used pseudonyms and impersonating real academics and scholars, sent emails to museum administrators and published anonymous blogs. The defendant was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and five years’ probation on a number of identity theft and criminal impersonation. The Appellate Division vacated the identity theft conviction, but affirmed the criminal impersonation conviction.

Ruling: The Appellate Division affirmed nine convictions of criminal impersonation and forgery, but vacated the remaining identity theft and harassment charges. The court noted that a defendant can be convicted of criminal impersonation if he seeks to harm the reputation of another, despite the absence of a pecuniary injury. Further, despite the use of emails using an NYU email address, it does not constitute the creation or falsification of an NYU business record. Therefore, the remaining identity theft conviction must be vacated. In addition, the Court of Appeals found Section 240.30(1)(a) unconstitutionally vague and vacated the harassment convictions.

Ronald L. Kuby for the appellant; Vincent Rivellese for the respondent