|Paul D. Ceglia|
July 22, 1973 |
Wellsville, New York
Paul D. Ceglia // (born July 22, 1973) is an American who has founded a number of unsuccessful internet businesses including StreetFax, PageBook, and Allegany Pellets. In 2010, Ceglia brought a lawsuit against Facebook, Inc., claiming ownership of 84% of the company.
Ceglia was born in Wellsville, New York to an Italian-American father, Carmine Ceglia, and an Irish mother. He moved around after high school, spending two years teaching at an alternative school in Taos, New Mexico and opened an ice cream stand in New York. Ceglia claims he bought and sold real estate, built and renovated homes in Wellsville and the Bahamas, helped start an eco-friendly cemetery in Ithaca, New York, and was a founding member of the local Green Party. He told Businessweek: "I like to think about myself as someone that is driven by trying to contribute in some way to increasing the consciousness on the planet", which he also states on his Facebook page.
Paul Ceglia vs. Mark Zuckerberg
On June 30, 2010, Ceglia filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg, claiming 84% ownership of Facebook and seeking monetary damages. According to Ceglia, he and Zuckerberg made an agreement on April 28, 2003 with a fee of $1,000 which entitled Ceglia to 50 percent of the website's revenue, as well as an additional 1 percent interest in the business per day after January 1, 2004 (if Zuckerberg was tardy in deploying the site), until the website was completed. The contract itself says Ceglia agreed to pay Zuckerberg $1,000 for StreetFax and $1,000 for another project called PageBook. The contract also mentions an expanded project called The Face Book to be completed by January 2004, charging an additional 1% interest in the business will be due the buyer for each day the website is delayed from that date. Ceglia preferred a $1,000 receipt from his checkbook, dated six months after the contract as evidence that he paid Zuckerberg for his work. But it wasn't the full $2,000 amount, and the agreement does not specify what would happen in the case of default.
Zuckerberg admits to having worked for Ceglia on StreetFax.com, but claims that Facebook was an entirely separate idea that had no relation to Ceglia. Ceglia is still in litigation with Facebook seeking damages. Facebook's lawyers have stated they believe the evidence claimed by Ceglia is fabricated. Ceglia and his lawyers have claimed that Facebook has planted a fake document on his computer to incriminate him.
Legal counsel in Facebook case
On June 29, 2011, the law firm representing Ceglia, DLA Piper, withdrew from the case, and Ceglia retained a new legal team. It was reported on July 27, 2011, that Edelson McGuire, who took Ceglia's case a month earlier, withdrew from the case. However, this does not appear to be accurate as Edelson McGuire filed no paperwork in court on Ceglia's behalf. In court, Ceglia has been represented by Paul Argentieri (his longtime counsel); Jeffrey Lake, a San Diego attorney who is representing him on an interim basis; and prior to that by the law firms of Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman, Connors & Vilardo, and DLA Piper. On October 18, 2011, Lake withdrew from the case. Lake did not give a reason for his withdrawal. Paul Argentieri remains on the case.
Arrest of Ceglia on Fraud Charges
On October 26, 2012, federal agents arrested Ceglia and charged him with fabricating evidence in relation to his suit against Zuckerberg.
Allegany Pellets LLC
Ceglia and his wife Iasia (née McCarthy) were owners of Allegany Pellets LLC and were charged with one count of first-degree scheme to defraud and 12 counts of fourth-degree grand larceny in November 2009. In December 2009, then-Attorney General (later Governor) Andrew M. Cuomo announced a temporary restraining order banning Ceglia from taking advance payments from consumers, destroying any business records or property, or transferring any assets. Cuomo stated in a press release that the company, had “lied to customers and solicited new orders” even when it could not “deliver products as promised.”
- U.S. Public Records Index Vols 1 & 2 (Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.), 2010.
- Businessweek: "Paul Ceglia: The Man Who Owns 84% of Facebook?" August 4, 2010.
- "The Guy Who Says He Owns 50% Of Facebook Just Filed A Boatload Of New Evidence -- And It's Breathtaking" by Henry Blodget, Business Insider, April 12, 2011
- Crunchbase: Paul Ceglia profile
- Facebook lawyer says Ceglia hid more emails
- Paul Ceglia Vows To Continue Fight Against Facebook
- "Ceglia Switches Legal Teams in Facebook Ownership Case" by Chloe Albanesius, PC Magazine, June 29, 2011
- Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER)
- "Ceglia lawyer withdraws from Facebook lawsuit". Reuters. October 18, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- "Ceglia charged in alleged scheme to defraud Facebook". Retrieved 26 October 2012.
- North County Gazette: Owners Of Wood Pellet Firm Burn Customers. November 2, 2009
- Buffalo News: "State sues pellet firm in WNY as fraudulent". August 21, 2010
- New York Office of Attorney General Press Release: ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO OBTAINS TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST WNY WOOD PELLET COMPANY SUED FOR DEFRAUDING CONSUMERS, December 29, 2009