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Jewelry Exec Sentenced for Forging Court Order to Scrub Google Results

A jewelry company executive has been sentenced to prison for forging a federal judge’s signature.

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Michael Arnstein, CEO of The Natural Sapphire Co. in Manhattan, was accused of forging a court order in an effort to prevent negative reviews about his business from coming up in Google search results. He’s been sentenced to nine months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $20,000 U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

“Michael Arnstein’s blatant criminal scheme to exploit the authority of the federal judiciary for his company’s benefit was outrageous,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. “As Arnstein has learned, his attempts to remove negative reviews about his business from Google search results by forging a U.S. District Court judge’s signature may have worked in the short term, but it also earned him nine months in a federal prison.”

Arnstein pleaded guilty on Sept. 15, 2017, before U.S. District Court Judge Andrew L. Carter Jr., who imposed his sentence.

INSTORE reported last year:

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 reported.

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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.

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