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Facebook challenger gets new lawyers

Most of the attorneys who represented Paul Ceglia, an Allegany County man who claims to have co-founded the Facebook networking site, have left Ceglia's federal court case.

Ceglia now has his third legal team since filing a lawsuit in the matter last year, according to court papers obtained Wednesday by The Buffalo News.

Attorneys from DLA Piper LLC, one of the nation's largest law firms, and from the Buffalo law firm of Lippes, Mathias, Wexler, Friedman LLP did not explain in court papers why they are leaving the case.

"The attorneys from our firm and [DLA Piper] are no longer counsel to Mr. Ceglia," said Dennis C. Vacco of the Lippes, Mathias firm. "I can confirm that, but I can't comment on the reasons why, because it's an attorney-client matter."

Ceglia, who lives in Wellsville, filed a lawsuit last year claiming that he and Mark Zuckerberg entered into a partnership in 2003 that now makes Ceglia a 50 percent owner of Facebook, the social networking site that reportedly is worth $50 billion.

Zuckerberg's attorneys, including former U.S. Attorney Terrance P. Flynn, accuse Ceglia of fraud and say his lawsuit is baseless.

Through his attorneys, Ceglia always has claimed that his case is legitimate and that he did help Zuckerberg start Facebook.

Court officials said the case probably will take months, if not years, to go to trial. U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio is handling pretrial matters.

Ceglia now is represented by attorneys Paul Argentieri of Hornell and Jeffrey A. Lake of San Diego, according to court papers.

Monica Jackson, administrator for Lake's firm, confirmed Wednesday that Lake is assembling a team of lawyers to proceed with the lawsuit.

"We're looking for support attorneys," she said.

Argentieri said Wednesday that Ceglia will file a motion for a short delay in proceedings so that the new legal team can prepare.

Efforts to reach Ceglia to comment were unsuccessful.

The group that included Vacco took over Ceglia's case in April, after another group, which included Buffalo attorney Terrence M. Connors, left the case, also without comment.

e-mail: dherbeck@buffnews.com