US: Case spotlights Dead Sea Scrolls, fake e-mails

Students and university officials started getting e-mails last year in which a prominent Judaic studies scholar seemed to make a startling confession: he had committed plagiarism. The messages, it turned out, were a hoax. Prosecutors filed criminal charges in New York, saying a lawyer sent the messages to tarnish the professor, his father's rival, writes Jennifer Peltz in The New York Times.

The court case has drawn attention to issues both ancient (the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls) and decidedly modern (phony online identities).

The more than 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 1940s in Israel. Their origin is the subject of a heated academic debate. Many scholars say the scrolls were assembled by an ancient Jewish group, the Essenes. Others, including University of Chicago professor Norman Golb, say the writings were the work of a range of Jewish sects and communities.

Authorities say Golb's son Raphael was so incensed by the disagreement that he decided to take aim at his father's adversaries, particularly New York University Judaic studies chairman Lawrence Schiffman. Raphael Golb, a 49-year-old attorney, opened an e-mail account in Schiffman's name and used it to send messages to students and officials in which Schiffman purportedly acknowledged plagiarising and misrepresenting Norman Golb's scholarship. Golb faces charges including with identity theft and criminal impersonation. He has pleaded not guilty.
Full report on The New York Times site