Facebook says it has found the proof that shows Paul Ceglia, a man that claims he owns half of the company over a 2003 contract, is a fraud. Facebook's court filing in Buffalo, New York on Friday reads: "Embedded in the electronic data on Ceglia's computer ... Defendants have uncovered smoking-gun evidence that the purported contract at the heart of this case is a fabrication."
The company didn't state specifically what the evidence it found was, and neither Facebook nor Ceglia's lawyer, San Diego attorney Jeffrey Lake, commented on the court filing or the social network's findings. On Saturday, however, Wired noted that Facebook's lawyers asked the court to remove the proposed motion from its PACER electronic document system due to improper redaction, and instead substitute a redacted version. The court complied, and here are two of the relevant passages (the bolded texts are the parts Facebook redacted):
(1) Directing Ceglia to comply with the provision of the Order requiring him to produce several specific categories of electronic documents, including copies of the purported contract in the possession of Ceglia's lawyers or experts, and to produce the storage devices whose very existence he has concealed;
(6) Overruling Ceglia's abusive and improper designation of all 120 relevant electronic documents and data items found to date on his computers, CDs and floppy disks – including the authentic contract – as "confidential" documents that cannot be disclosed under the joint stipulated protective order.
After combing through a number of computers and hard drives, Facebook reportedly found the original "authentic contract" between Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Ceglia. Furthermore, Facebook says it has proof that there are other "storage devices" that Ceglia is intentionally hiding from the company, in violation of a court order.
Ceglia's lawyers are claiming the "authentic contract" is shielded from use in the suit because it is designated as "confidential" under the rules of an agreement between the two parties. Facebook is asking the federal judge overseeing the case in New York to overrule that designation. In the court filing, Facebook says it has found 120 documents that are relevant to the case, and it wants to be able to use all of them.
An oral argument in the case before Judge Leslie G. Foschio of the US District Court Western District of New York is scheduled for August 17, 2011. Next week the saga will thus continue.
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.
Facebook says all the evidence required to prove Ceglia's contract is a forgery is in his computers and hard drives. If Facebook really has found a copy of the "authentic contract" that does not include any investment in the company, it may finally be able to close the Ceglia case.
Facebook insists Ceglia is a known con artist. Since he first filed suit, Ceglia has been dropped by at least four law firms.