Paul Ceglia is an entrepreneur, and is currently the owner of a wood pellet fuel company in upstate New York. However, Ceglia is perhaps most famous for claiming to be a part owner of the social networking giant, Facebook.
On June 30, 2010, Ceglia filed a lawsuit against Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg, claiming 84% ownership of Facebook and seeking monetary damages. According to Ceglia, he and Zuckerberg signed a contract on April 28, 2003 that an initial fee of $1,000 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, until website completion. Zuckerberg was developing other projects at the time, among which was Facemash, the predecessor of Facebook, but did not register the domain name thefacebook.com until January 1, 2004. Facebook management dismissed the lawsuit as “completely frivolous”. Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt told a reporter that Ceglia’s counsel had unsuccessfully sought an out-of-court settlement.
The contract itself says that 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, saying â€œan additional 1% interest in the business will be due the buyer for each day the website is delayed from that dateâ€. Ceglia has proferred 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 doesnâ€™t describe what happens if there is a default.
In an interview with ABC World News, Zuckerberg stated he was confident he had never signed such an agreement. At the time, Zuckerberg worked for Ceglia as a code developer on a project named “StreetFax”. Judge Thomas Brown issued a restraining order on all financial transfers concerning ownership of Facebook until further notice; in response, Facebook removed the case to federal court and asked that the state court injunction be dissolved. According to Facebook, the injunction would not affect their business and lacked any legal basis.
Ceglia is also a convicted felon and has been arrested for fraud. Back in March of 1997, Ceglia pled guilty to felony possession of 400 grams of the controlled substance, psilocybin, also known as â€œmagic mushroomsâ€. Then, in October 2009, Ceglia and his wife Iasia were charged with 12 counts of fourth-degree grand larceny and one count each of first-degree scheme to defraud. The Ceglias, owners of Allegany Pellets, LLC, allegedly defrauded customers out of at least $200,000. They were not convicted.all parties where refunded thier money back and charges dropped.