Remember Paul Ceglia, the New York businessman who claimed Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave him a 50 percent stake in the social media behemoth? Well, it turns out federal prospectors didn’t buy it.
Early Friday the 39-year-old Ceglia was arrested at his Wellsville, N.Y., home and charged with one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud. Each carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison – ouch!
Last year Ceglia, in an amended lawsuit against Zuckerberg and Facebook, claimed that in 2003 Zuckerberg agreed to enter a business relationship that would give Ceglia a 50 percent state in a company called “The Face Book,” which later became Facebook. Ceglia even pointed to a contract that Zuckerberg allegedly signed in April 2003.
Trouble is, according to prosecutors, the contract was doctored and the only legitimate thing on it was the signature. In actuality, they say, the contract called for Ceglia to pay the then Harvard student Zuckerberg for coding work used on Ceglia’s online business StreetFax.com.
Ceglia’s multi-billion dollar lawsuit are likely to come to a halting stop, given this latest legal turn. Preet Bharara, Manhattan U.S. Attorney, 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.”