Paul Ceglia Arrested: Accused of Trying to Cheat Zuckerberg, Facebook

Paul Ceglia arrestedBy LARRY NEUMEISTER

NEW YORK (AP) - A businessman who claimed in a lawsuit that Facebook (FB) founder Mark Zuckerberg had promised him half ownership in the then-fledgling company when he was still at Harvard was arrested Friday on fraud charges.

Paul Ceglia, 39, was arrested at his Wellsville, N.Y., home on charges of mail and wire fraud after an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. He was scheduled to appear in federal court in Buffalo later in the day.

Authorities said Ceglia doctored, fabricated and destroyed evidence to support the claims in a lawsuit he filed in Buffalo federal court in 2010.

In the lawsuit, Ceglia claimed that he and Zuckerberg in 2003 signed a software development contract that included a provision entitling Ceglia to half ownership of Facebook in exchange for $1,000 in startup money for the budding company.

Investigators said in a release that Ceglia had replaced the first page of the real contract he signed with Zuckerberg with another page that was "doctored to make it appear as though Zuckerberg had agreed to provide Ceglia with an interest in Facebook."

A criminal complaint in the case said a search of Ceglia's computer hard drives uncovered the real April 28, 2003 contract, which Ceglia had emailed to an attorney in March 2004, years before his lawsuit against Facebook and Zuckerberg. Additional evidence included proof that spacing, columns and margins in the fake contract differs from the real contract and copies of actual emails in Harvard's backup tapes, the complaint said. Authorities said Zuckerberg and another of Facebook's founders have said the idea for Facebook did not arise until months after the contract with Ceglia.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Ceglia was seeking a "quick payday based on a blatant forgery."

Bharara said Ceglia's "alleged conduct not only constitutes a massive fraud attempt, but also an attempted corruption of our legal system through the manufacture of false evidence. That is always intolerable. Dressing up a fraud as a lawsuit does not immunize you from prosecution."

In a statement, attorney Orin Snyder praised the prosecution on behalf of Zuckerberg and the Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook. "Ceglia used the federal court system to perpetuate his fraud and will now be held accountable for his criminal scheme," the statement says.

If convicted, Ceglia could face up to 40 years in prison. It was not immediately clear who will represent Ceglia in court. A lawyer who has represented him in his lawsuit did not immediately return a message for comment


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deesd5

fb sucks

October 27 2012 at 10:41 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ihop86a

I have confidence in ROMNEY............

October 27 2012 at 8:46 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Alcides Santos

largest social network
friends - Business - Entertainment

October 26 2012 at 9:28 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
eludejack

I don't feel sorry for facebook here. It's almost like a robin hood tale

October 26 2012 at 8:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
delawarebj

THIS IS A BUNCH OF BULL, IT IS NOT TAKING MY VOTE.........

October 26 2012 at 8:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
delawarebj

I KNOW PRES. OBAMA IS DOING AN EXCELLENT JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!

October 26 2012 at 7:49 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Kingofhearts1287

Why'd he wait until 2010 to file this?

October 26 2012 at 5:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
troubador_mia

This has to be a relative of Zuckerburg's some how right?

October 26 2012 at 4:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Yaelle Glenn

ugh. sleazy opportunism.

October 26 2012 at 4:25 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply