Ceglia claims Zuckerberg deleted Facebook e-mails

Ceglia claims Zuckerberg deleted Facebook e-mails

Summary: Paul Ceglia is claiming Mark Zuckerberg deleted e-mails when the Facebook co-founder and CEO learned he was being sued. Facebook is calling the claims delusional.

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Paul Ceglia, a man that claims he owns half of Facebook, has asked US Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio to sanction Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly deleting e-mails from his Harvard University account. According to filings made yesterday in a federal court in Buffalo, New York, Ceglia charges Zuckerberg did the deed once he learned of the lawsuit after receiving the so-called litigation hold.

"These filings by Ceglia and his latest lawyer are truly delusional," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "These are the desperate acts of a man whose fraudulent lawsuit has now been fully exposed."

Ceglia has previously said he and Zuckerberg discussed business matters in 2003 and 2004 via e-mail, correspondences which he cut and pasted into word processing documents, printed, and saved. In his request for sanctions yesterday, Ceglia seeks an order prohibiting Facebook or Zuckerberg from disputing the authenticity of his e-mails, according to Businessweek.

Two months ago, Ceglia claimed Facebook violated his privacy by exposing passwords to his Web-based e-mail accounts in a court document filed on September 1 in federal court in Buffalo, New York. The papers were removed from the public file the next day, meaning the login credentials were visible to the public for 12 hours. Court documents showed, however, that Ceglia gave the passwords to Facebook in his own declaration, which he himself did not designate as confidential. Facebook countered by saying that Ceglia and his lawyers are to blame, since the document was not properly labeled.

Three months ago, Facebook charged that Ceglia has been withholding electronic devices from the court. The company asked Foschio to force Ceglia to turn computers, files, and e-mails.

Four months ago, Facebook said it found "smoking-gun evidence that the purported contract at the heart of this case is a fabrication." When Facebook's lawyers asked for a resubmittal of a document to the court due to improper redaction, it turned out the blacked out text referred to an "authentic contract" and "storage devices" that Facebook says Ceglia is intentionally hiding from the company, in violation of a court order.

Facebook said it found the original "authentic contract" between Mark Zuckerberg and Paul Ceglia. Facebook then produced said contract, noting it doesn't even mention Facebook at all. Not only did the social networking giant reportedly find this allegedly genuine contract on Ceglia's computer but on the e-mail servers of a Chicago-based law firm, Sidley Austin as well. Facebook alleges that Ceglia e-mailed the original contract to Sidely Austin back in 2004.

Originally, Ceglia's lawyers said the "authentic contract" is shielded from use in the lawsuit because it is designated as "confidential" under the rules of an agreement between the two parties. As a result, Facebook asked Foschio to overrule that designation; he agreed and ordered Ceglia to hand over documents Facebook says proves he forged the 2003 contract.

As for the "storage devices," Facebook said that forensic data shows evidence of six USB devices, which it argues were likely used to modify the authentic contract. The company's lawyers say at least one of those devices includes a folder called "Facebook Files" and an image called "Zuckerberg Contract page1.tif." Facebook believes that image is the page of the contract that was forged to include mention of an investment in the social network.

In an exclusive interview with ZDNet, Ceglia told me the original "authentic contract" Facebook says it found is really just a Photoshopped image the company planted on his computer. He says he and his lawyers reportedly knew about it for some time and willingly handed it over to Facebook. He told ZDNet that his team will prove the image in question "has no authenticating properties whatsoever."

Ceglia speculates it could have been Zuckerberg himself, or the US law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe that may have done the alleged dirty work. Ceglia called Zuckerberg "an admitted forger and an admitted hacker" and explained that Zuckerberg, or someone representing him, carelessly wrote his home address on the allegedly forged document that he didn't know about or move to until more than a year after the document was supposedly written.

Last but certainly not least, Ceglia says he has conclusive proof that Zuckerberg is lying. He said that anyone with some legal expertise or technical expertise willing to help "nail him down for good" is welcome to join at PaulsCase.com, which requires registration. Via the PaulsCase wiki, Ceglia is trying to open source his lawsuit.

Facebook acknowledges that Ceglia hired Zuckerberg to work for his StreetFax company in April 2003 while Zuckerberg was a freshman at Harvard. Ceglia first legally attacked Facebook in July 2010, saying the contract also included $1,000 initial funding for Facebook, and that he's entitled to more than half of the social networking giant. That last part Facebook is obviously disputing.

Facebook insists Ceglia is a known con artist. Since he first filed suit, Ceglia has been dropped by at least three law firms. He is now living in Galway, Ireland, but the lawsuit is continuing. Ceglia, who called ZDNet from Ireland, maintains that he has been unfairly painted as a con artist.

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Topics: Collaboration, Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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6 comments
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  • I will say this for Ceglia

    He is a commited con artist. Even with the amount of evidence against his claim, he continues to claim he owns most of Facebook.

    He should be commited.
    John Zern
    • RE: Ceglia claims Zuckerberg deleted Facebook e-mails

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  • RE: Ceglia claims Zuckerberg deleted Facebook e-mails

    "I'VE GOT NEWS FOR YOU ZUCKERBERG . THAT CONTRACT IS AUTHENTIC.
    We know that Lessin and Zuckerberg have been tight since they met at Harvard Apparently, Mark Zuckerberg really, really wanted to work with Drop.io founder Sam Lessin.

    But Sam Lessin knew Zuckerberg stole the idea facebook and that the email's where on Drop.io
    newbedave
  • the evidence

    I have being following this story since the start and have seen a lot of evidence on Ceglias side which is not being broadcasted because it is damning to FB. Why isnt the expert views in favour of Ceglia who all agree Ceglia's evidence is authentic? .Lets take this simple fact of email preservation, Ceglia and Zuckerberg used a program called Webmail to email eachother and anyone with any computer knowledge knows that Webmail deletes sent email in order to avoid exceeding storage limits. So according to Ceglia he copied the headers and texts of these emails into word documents in 03-04 in order to not loose them by leaving them in Webmail to be deleted at a later date and put them on floppy discs..comouter forensic expert Jerry Gran after analyzing them says they are consistent with how Ceglia says he copied and saved them here is a link to Ceglias Lawyers website it contains grants evidence along with others and i have to say its quite convincing http://bolandlegal.com/site/ceglia-emails-to-zuckerberg-are-authentic-and-they-are-blockbusters .. Ther is much more evidence you just have to look at the facts,, unfortunately the media is refusing to report such facts. Or what about Michael McGowans biased analysis of Ceglias computer, at while ago McGowan outlined a framework on how to find out the authencity of such things, he used them on Ceglias computer but refused to use the same framework when analysing the computers of Zuckerberg
    GetYourFactsStraight89
    • RE: Ceglia claims Zuckerberg deleted Facebook e-mails

      @GetYourFactsStraight89 Hey thanks for the links dude, I took a look and this guy Ceglia has a good case in my opinion. All I have seen in media is how this guy is a con artist and fled to Ireland because he was lying, but after looking at his lawyers site, their evidence is pretty strong especially the evidence presented by Jerry Grant, untill now i never seen grants evidence, which is remarkable because the media should be reporting this, this seems like a case of smear the small guy and favour the big business like facebook, bias on the part of the media in my opinion,. I HOPE THIS GUY GETS JUSTICE AND GETS HIS RIGHTFUL SHARE OF FACEBOOK ZUCKERBERG SCAMMED BEFORE HE COULD DO IT AGAIN
      Avramfunkle
    • RE: Ceglia claims Zuckerberg deleted Facebook e-mails

      @GetYourFactsStraight89 Hey thanks for the links dude, I took a look and this guy Ceglia has a good case in my opinion. All I have seen in media is how this guy is a con artist and fled to Ireland because he was lying, but after looking at his lawyers site, their evidence is pretty strong especially the evidence presented by Jerry Grant, untill now i never seen grants evidence, which is remarkable because the media should be reporting this, this seems like a case of smear the small guy and favour the big business like facebook, bias on the part of the media in my opinion,. I HOPE THIS GUY GETS JUSTICE AND GETS HIS RIGHTFUL SHARE OF FACEBOOK ZUCKERBERG SCAMMED BEFORE HE COULD DO IT AGAIN
      Avramfunkle