|Paul D. Ceglia|
July 22, 1973 |
Wellsville, New York
Paul D. Ceglia // (born July 22, 1973) is a convicted felon and fugitive who founded a number of now defunct businesses including StreetFax, PageBook, and Allegany Pellets. In 2010, Ceglia brought a lawsuit against Facebook, Inc., claiming ownership of 84% of the company. First his own lawyers, then the court, subsequently determined that his claim was fraudulent. Ceglia and his family were found to have vanished on May 1, 2015 after he cut off a GPS tracker and he is being sought by law enforcement agencies.
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 proffered a $1,000 receipt from his checkbook, dated six months after the contract as evidence that he paid Zuckerberg for his work.
Zuckerberg admitted to having worked for Ceglia on StreetFax.com, but claimed that Facebook was an entirely separate idea that had no relation to Ceglia. Ceglia and his lawyers have claimed that Facebook planted a fake document on his computer to incriminate him. The evidence presented by Ceglia was determined to be fabricated.
Legal counsel in Facebook case
In court, Ceglia was represented by Paul Argentieri (his longtime counsel); Jeffrey Lake, a San Diego attorney who represented him on an interim basis after the law firms of Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman, Connors & Vilardo, and DLA Piper all fired their client and left the case.
Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman withdrew as counsel in early 2011, when their own analysis concluded that the contract Ceglia was using as evidence had been forged. On June 29, 2011, DLA Piper withdrew from the case, and Ceglia retained a Jeffrey Lake. On October 18, 2011, Lake also withdrew from the case. Lake did not give a reason for his withdrawal.
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. In March 2015, authorities discovered that Ceglia removed his GPS tracking device and issued a warrant for his arrest. Law enforcement officials expressed concern that Ceglia was out of the country. Ceglia's mother, father, and brother lost the $250,000 they put up for Ceglia's bond.
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.
- "Zuckerberg Seeks Revenge As Facebook Sues Paul Ceglia's Lawyers" http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2014/10/20/zuckerberg-seeks-revenge-as-facebook-sues-lawyers-for-paul-ceglia/ October 20, 2014
- "Facebook Claimant Ceglia Charged With Faking Contract" http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-10-26/facebook-claimant-ceglia-charged-with-faking-contract October 26 2012
- Businessweek: "Paul Ceglia: The Man Who Owns 84% of Facebook?" August 4, 2010.
- Missing. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Accessed June 16, 2016
- Missing Wellsville Family weny.com/news. Accessed June 16, 2016
- "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
- Facebook lawyer says Ceglia hid more emails
- Paul Ceglia Vows To Continue Fight Against Facebook
- Accused Facebook Scammer Faces Marshals' $5000 Bounty, accessed April 4, 2015
- The Other Strange Tale of Facebook's Origins arstechnica.com
- "Ceglia Switches Legal Teams in Facebook Ownership Case" by Chloe Albanesius, PC Magazine, June 29, 2011
- "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.
- Paul Ceglia is missing after removing GPS device, March 9, 2015
- 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