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Federal appeals court rules against Ceglia in Facebook case

Paul Ceglia is running out of judges to hear his Facebook ownership claims.

A federal appeals court on Monday became the third court to dismiss or recommend dismissing Ceglia’s civil suit against Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York pointed to “clear and convincing evidence” that the Allegany County man’s 2003 contract with Zuckerberg is a forgery.

“From Day One, we’ve said that this case is a fraud and after reviewing the evidence, the Court of Appeals agreed,” Facebook said in a statement. “We are pleased that the truth has prevailed.”

While facing criminal charges related to the lawsuit, Ceglia, 41, removed his electronic ankle bracelet and fled his Wellsville home in early March along with his wife, two kids and the family dog. He remains a fugitive.

The criminal case against him grew out of his 2010 civil lawsuit in Buffalo federal court in which Ceglia claimed that he and Zuckerberg, then a Harvard University freshman, had agreed to a contract that entitled him to at least a 50 percent stake in Facebook.

The appeals court found otherwise and pointed to “overwhelming forensic evidence” of the document’s fraudulent irregularities.

“Indeed, many of the suspicious irregularities cited by the experts are apparent to the naked, untrained eye,” the court said in its decision.

The court also suggested that Ceglia’s claims that he forgot about the contract for seven years “belies common sense.”

“I am greatly distressed and disappointed,” Robert Ross Fogg, the Buffalo lawyer representing Ceglia, said of the ruling. “I am more disappointed in Paul. Nevertheless, it appears the court was more outraged by Paul’s absence than the district court’s divergence from the procedural rules.”

Fogg said he will continue to fight the criminal charges against Ceglia.

In ruling against him, the appeals court upheld U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara’s dismissal of his suit.

Arcara adopted the recommendations of U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio, who found Ceglia’s purported contract to be a “recently created fabrication.”

Facebook acknowledges Zuckerberg signed a contract with Ceglia while a student at Harvard University, but the social media giant contends it had nothing to do with Facebook.

email: pfairbanks@buffnews.com