Everyone’s favorite “Facebook co-owner” is back in the news, as Paul Ceglia was indicted on wire fraud and mail fraud charges Monday by a federal grand jury in New York, The Steuben Courier Advocate reported, and he faces up to 20 years in prison.
As if the Ceglia saga hasn’t been strange enough, enter James Charles Kopp, an inmate at Cannan Federal Penitentiary, who was convicted in 2003 of murdering abortion doctor Barnett Slepian in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1998.
According to the Courier Advocate, Kopp fingered Ceglia as the trigger man in Slepian’s murder, and he wrote (unedited) in paperwork sent to the federal court in Buffalo:
Paul Ceglia was pen pals with me for four years … Ceglia told me in letters he was going to lie and create a fraud lawsuit against Facebook so that he could use some of the money to get me a paid top dollar attorney to help me with my appeal on my criminal case.
Me and Ceglia were in a sexual relationship since valentines day 2008 but we broke up 2 days after Ceglia was arrested in October 2012 for fraud charges.
(If Ceglia won the Facebook case, he promised Kopp) $200 a month in prison commissary … a year’s subscription to Men’s Health Magazine and Yoga Journal.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced the indictment, according to the Courier Advocate, saying that Ceglia ”engaged in a multibillion-dollar scheme to defraud Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg and to corrupt the federal judicial process,” and adding that Ceglia doctored a legitimate contract he had with Zuckerberg dated April 28, 2003, unrelated to Facebook, then fabricated emails and tried to destroy evidence. Bharara added:
From … June 2010 up to and including in or about October 2012 … Ceglia willfully and knowingly, having devised and intending to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud, and for obtaining money and property by means of false and fraudulent pretenses …
However, U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York Judge Leslie Foschio recommended dismissal of the suit in March, ruling that Ceglia altered a 2003 contract with Zuckerberg that was signed before Facebook existed, and writing in his ruling:
The evidence filed by (Ceglia) in opposition, although voluminous, simply is replete with patent inconsistencies, demonstrating that the work-for-hire document is a gross fabrication.
Other stumbling blocks for Ceglia through the case included:
- Ceglia mysteriously disappeared to Ireland in late 2011, smack in the middle of the case.
- Ceglia incurred the wrath of Foschio on several occasions.
- A report prepared for Facebook by forensic document examiner and handwriting expert Gus Lesnevich, revealed last November, basically sealed Ceglia’s fate, as it represented proof that the contract was altered.
- Lawyers continually dropped or sought to drop the case, with current lawyer Dean Boland attempting to follow suit.
- Ceglia pleaded not guilty to one count each of mail fraud and wire fraud last November, after being arrested on those charges the month before.
- Ceglia was ordered to reimburse Facebook for almost $90,000 in attorney fees last November.
The Courier Advocate reported that Boland once again asked to be removed from the case, adding that attorney Paul Argentieri is still part of Ceglia’s defense team.
Readers: What more could possibly happen in this case?