He's charged with forgery.
A jewelry company executive is accused of forging a judge's signature in an effort to prevent negative reviews about his business from coming up in Google search results.
Michael Arnstein, CEO of The Natural Sapphire Co. in Manhattan, "faces two counts of forging a judge's signature and a related conspiracy count," Courthouse News Service reports. He's entered a plea of not guilty before U.S. Magistrate Barbara Moses of the Southern District of New York.
Following a lawsuit by Arnstein against a web designer named Prashant Telang, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan had ordered that several dozen reviews be removed. Arnstein had argued that the reviews were bogus and had been posted as a result of a dispute he'd had with Telang and Telang's company, TransPacific Software, Courthouse News Service reports.
But soon, more of the reviews began to appear. And prosecutors say he used the legitimate court order to create new orders, complete with forged signature of the judge.
He then allegedly sent the fake orders to Google, requesting that the reviews be excluded from search results.
The criminal complaint quotes Arnstein talking about his alleged crimes in emails. In one message, he allegedly wrote, in part: "I spent 100k on lawyers to get a court order injunction to have things removed from Google and Youtube, only to photoshop the documents for future use when new things ‘popped up’ and google legal never double checked my docs for validity… I could have saved 100k and 2 years of waiting/damage if I just used photoshop and a few hours of creative editing…"
Each of the charges that Arnstein faces comes with a potential sentence of five years, according to Courthouse News Service.
Read more at Courthouse News Service