Michael Arnstein, CEO of the Natural Sapphire Company, pled guilty to a single charge of forging a judge’s signature, according to a Department of Justice statement.
He was originally charged with three counts. He faces five years in prison.
According to a federal complaint, in 2012, Arnstein obtained a genuine court order to stop a former contractor from posting disparaging comments about his business online. When comments continued to appear Arnstein allegedly used that original court order to create new counterfeit orders which he then sent to Google, which included a forged judge’s signature.
In several cases, he was successful in getting the sites and comments taken down, as he said in an email to a friend later submitted as evidence.
“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,” he said. “I could have saved 100k and two years of waiting/damage if I just used photoshop and a few hours of creative editing…Lawyers are often worse than the criminals.”