For more than a year, Paul Ceglia has led people to believe that when the time came, he would prove that he helped create the social network Facebook.
The Wellsville businessman apparently missed one of those times Monday -- a court-imposed deadline for providing information considered crucial to proving his role in starting the Internet giant.
On top of that, a federal judge rejected Ceglia's request for a delay in providing the information.
"Ceglia brought a fraudulent lawsuit that is now crashing down around him," Facebook lawyer Orin S. Snyder said in court papers challenging the delay. Ceglia lost the latest round when U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara rejected his request for a delay in the Monday deadline set by another federal judge.
Arcara's ruling meant that Ceglia had until late Monday to provide five computer thumb drives that purportedly contain important information to support his contention that he's a co-founder of Facebook.
Facebook spokesman Andrew N. Noyes declined to comment except to confirm that the company and its lawyers were still waiting for the information as of 5 p.m. Monday.
Earlier this month, Jeffrey A. Lake, Ceglia's San Diego-based attorney, informed the court that his client could no longer find the computer thumb drives and other information storage devices. The attorney told U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio that he has asked Ceglia several times what happened to them.
Lake could not be reached to comment Monday but in the past has dismissed any suggestion that Ceglia wants to settle the case -- he recently offered to seek mediation -- because he knows that it's a loser. "I disagree with that," Lake told the court. "I'm being reasonable, and I invite open discussion."
Ceglia contends that he and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg entered into a partnership in 2003 that now makes him a 50 percent owner of Facebook, a business reportedly worth $50 billion. Zuckerberg, who is president and CEO of Facebook, denies the existence of any such partnership.
Earlier this month, Snyder filed court papers contending that computers owned by Ceglia and his family contain evidence that the 2003 contract that Ceglia provided to the court is a fraud. He said the "smoking gun" revelation was uncovered by technicians hired to analyze the computers.
"He claimed ownership of a substantial share in Facebook, Inc. based on an alleged contract that has now been revealed as a forgery, and purported 'emails' with Mark Zuckerberg that Ceglia created out of whole cloth," Snyder says in the court papers.
Ceglia lives in Allegany County but has not appeared in court in recent months. Lake said his client recently traveled to Ireland but does not know how long he plans to stay.
In a recent email to ZDNet.com, Ceglia accused Facebook of manufacturing evidence against him. "It's laughable," he said. "They make this stuff up as they go along."