In 2010 Paul Ceglia sued Mark Zuckerberg, as he claimed that he was entitled to at least half of Facebook in ownership, due to a contract that the two signed in the year 2003. Zuckerberg supposedly got start up funds from Ceglia for the software development when he was a freshman at Harvard. Now that Facebook is a well established and billion dollar company, Ceglia took a shot at getting half of that fortune. His plan did not work, as in 2012 Ceglia was arrested for fraud in the case against Facebook, as the federal judge who dismissed the case where he sued Facebook, claimed that Ceglia had doctored the contract and the correspondence emails that he used for evidence.
Fast forward three years later to the year 2015, where the case against Ceglia is supposed to continue with a hearing set for Tuesday. The only problem is the Facebook fraud trial is now on hold, as Paul Ceglia is gone. According to his lawyer, Robert Fogg, Ceglia was reported missing from his home, after being reported to wear an ankle bracelet, due to his resources. However, the ankle bracelet was found at his home, but Ceglia was not.
His official charges were creating a multi-billion-dollar-scheme to defraud Facebook. If found guilty, Ceglia could be facing up to 40 years in prison. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg won the initial case in which Ceglia sued him and Facebook, claiming that he had a right to half. After Zuckerberg showed Ceglia’s supposed history of dubious financial behavior, he was indicted on the charges of Facebook fraud. But that was not enough for Mark Zuckerberg, as he then went after the lawyers who helped Ceglia create the lawsuit in 2010.
According to sources, the law firms involved in the case presented by Ceglia were DLA Piper and Milberg LLC. Much controversy surrounded the case of Facebook against the law firms. Zuckerberg claimed that the lawyers who helped Ceglia in the initial case, knew that the evidence they were presenting, specifically the contract, was fraud. He claimed that those lawyers must pay for helping create a case against Facebook on fraudulent evidence.
While that case has not seen any specific action, due to the deliberation over whether lawyers can be charged for representing a case and whether or not they had knowledge of the fraud, the case against Ceglia was still ongoing until now. Now that Ceglia is missing the trial must be put on hold. The courts are working to find him and bring him back for trial. However, Ceglia supposedly has many resources, including real estate in other areas, and according to sources, his escape may have been well planned.
The judge on the case, U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick, stated that getting free of the bracelet and escaping without his pretrial services officer noticing, must have took a “fair amount of planning.” Ceglia had pushed for dismissal of his case twice, though he lost both times. When at his bail hearing he also requested the chance to use equity from his real estate to pay his lawyer, though that too was denied. Ceglia’s lawyer states that he wonders if he is planning on using that money for flight.
The Facebook fraud trial is now on hold until Paul Ceglia is no longer gone. As the courts work to track him down, his official trial is now set to begin in May. It seems that going after a billion dollar company was nothing but trouble for Ceglia. Ceglia now knows that lying your way to billions, does not work, as he will be tried for defrauding Facebook, once he is found.
By Crystal Boulware
Marco Pakoeningrat – Creativecommons Flickr License