Paul Ceglia, the Allegany County man who claims to own half of Facebook, may be headed back to the U.S. after three years on the lam.
Arrested in Ecuador, where he was in hiding with his wife and three children, Ceglia recently lost his fight against extradition on charges that he operated a scheme to defraud Facebook, according to his Buffalo lawyer.
"I perceive this to be the end," said defense attorney Robert Ross Fogg. "What we're waiting for now are those final administrative proceedings."
Ceglia was arrested on the streets of Salinas, a resort community on the Pacific Ocean. A judge on Ecuador's National Court of Justice ordered him returned to the U.S. to face criminal charges related to his false Facebook ownership claims.
Fogg said Ceglia also lost his extradition appeal.
Ceglia's return to the U.S. comes three years after he escaped from home confinement at his residence in Wellsville and sent federal investigators on a global manhunt. He escaped by removing his ankle bracelet and attaching it to a ceiling fan that made it seem like he was moving about the house.
Federal prosecutors and U.S. Marshals declined to comment on Ceglia's status, but Fogg said he expects his client to be turned over to U.S. authorities and returned to New York City to stand trial.
The criminal case against him is the next chapter in a story that began with his high-profile claims that he helped start Facebook, the social networking giant.
Ceglia outlined his ownership claims in a lawsuit in Buffalo federal court, but the courts found his highly touted contract with Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg from their days at Harvard to be a fraud.
Ceglia appealed and, while the appeal was being heard, he found himself facing new allegations about his ownership claims.
"Now, all of a sudden, he's faced with criminal charges," said Fogg.
Since the start of the criminal case against him, Ceglia has maintained that the charges stem from a close relationship between the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan and lawyers for Facebook.
Fogg, who was hired to represent Ceglia, acknowledged he hasn't had any direct contact with Ceglia since he fled Wellsville three years ago and that his status as his lawyer is unclear at this point.
Even now, months after his arrest in Ecuador, details of Ceglia's time on the run are largely unknown, although Fogg suspects he was in Ecuador for at least two years, maybe more.
Fogg believes his client, his wife and their two children made their way to Ecuador by traveling through other countries.
He also revealed some news about Ceglia: He has a new infant son named Orayan, who was born in Ecuador.