Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction and as a fiction aficionado; I get a kick out of the ineptitude of government when put on display by the sheer audacity of stupidity. Paul D. Ceglia is a convicted felon who tried to swindle Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg with a bogus claim on the Facebook platform. In 2010, the felon filed a lawsuit claiming that he owned the majority of Facebook. It was a pure and simple fabrication complete with documents childishly fabricated or altered to make his case. That he tried to perpetuate a fraud is not surprising but what he did afterwards with the complicity of lawyers more interested in fees than the law and the ineptitude of the judicial system clearly demonstrates an inept legal system.
On June 30, 2010, Ceglia filed a lawsuit against Facebook and Zuckerberg alleging that he had a contract that gave him almost complete ownership in Facebook. According to Ceglia, he paid Mark Zuckerberg $1,000 to build Facebook. As evidenced in the legal proceedings, Ceglia produced a copy of a contract that he argued was the arrangement he made with Zuckerberg to program StreetFax.com and another project titled “PageBook.”
According to Ceglia, Zuckerberg was paid by Ceglia $1,000 to program StreetFax and another $1,000 for “PageBook.” In the copy of the contract offered by Ceglia, he owned a significant share of Facebook.
The problem is that according to one of Ceglia’s law firms representing him, the contract is a fabrication created by Paul Ceglia. According to the legal documents filed in the case, Paul Ceglia Photoshopped the original contract and added the Facebook terms into the copy of the original.
On October 26, 2012, Paul Ceglia was arrested and charged with fabricating evidence in the lawsuit. He was charged with creating the false contract on which he based his whole lawsuit on.
The court released Ceglia on bond and ordered him to wear a GPS tracking device.
As they say, once a con man, always a con man.
Earlier this month, Paul Ceglia took off his GPS tracking device and disappeared. On March 8, 2015, an arrest warrant was issued for Ceglia’s apprehension. According to the US Marshal’s wanted poster, Ceglia is believed to be “traveling with his wife Iasia, two children and the family dog.”
According to a motion filed in court (15-628), Ceglia “removed his GPS bracelet and attached it to a motorized contraption of his own creation, in order to give the appearance that he was still present and moving within his home.” The motion goes on to state that when the US Marshals Fugitive Task Force officers attempted to arrest Ceglia, on a bench warrant issued because of discrepancies in the GPS’ signals for about three days, they found “a hand-made contraption connected to the ceiling, from which Ceglia’s GPS bracelet was hanging. The purpose of the contraption appeared to be to keep the bracelet in motion using a stick connected to a motor that would rotate or swing the bracelet.”
The officers also reported, “they also observed a timer connected to the bracelet’s charger” in an apparent attempt “to mimic the report that would have been sent if Ceglia had been present and had plugged the charger in.”
As you can see from the images, clearly Paul Ceglia wanted to escape. Of course, his lawyers are arguing that it hasn’t been proven that he, in fact, is a fugitive, alluding to a nefarious disappearance.
Regardless, the whole makeshift contraption to fool the GPS watchers makes for an intriguing novel or television drama. However, it is all real.
As of yesterday, March 26, 2015, Paul Ceglia and his family have not been found.
Obviously, the Facebook angle caught my attention from the onset and I have been keeping a close eye on the developing saga of the ownership claim through to the bail jumping. As interesting and as funny as it all seems, I can’t help but wonder how inept the legal system is in allowing this charade to continue to play out.
Numerous lawyers have been milking this fraud for as many fees as they can get. DLA Piper, a law firm that once represented Ceglia, was sued by Facebook for conspiracy. Other lawyers have also been sued. Facebook has the money to correct a wrongful lawsuit by going after lawyers. Even then, I am dubious that Facebook would recover the significant costs it has expended in defending against the fraud.
To my knowledge, Facebook suing the lawyers representing Ceglia is a rare occurrence of lawyers being sued for their alleged participation in a fraud. I believe this is because the legal process in the United States has been bastardized to enable lawyers to charge fees regardless of the truth or the merits of the case.
In other words, damn the equity and fee them until their pockets are empty regardless of who is right or wrong in the case. I have many friends in the legal profession and I believe that there are many lawyers who practice ethically and morally. However, there are too many who parlay the law to ply their pockets with fees. As Ceglia’s case demonstrates, the legal system, through ineptitude and/or plain old corruption does not have the ability to curtail the abuses.
As for Paul Ceglia, his audacity might be idolized by some but the fact remains; what kind of man puts his wife and two children through the ordeal of living on the run? That simple truth is all you need to know about what kind of individual Paul Ceglia is, and to know whether his is guilty of being a fraud.