ARRESTED: Self-Proclaimed Facebook Co-Owner Paul Ceglia Charged With Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud

By David Cohen 

The shaky case brought by Paul Ceglia against Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally had the already weak foundation ripped out from under it, as U.S. postal inspectors arrested Ceglia Friday at his home in Wellsville, N.Y., charging him with falsifying records and destroying evidence.

Ceglia filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg in 2010, claiming that the two men had signed a contract in April 2003, under which Ceglia would receive a 50 percent stake in the venture that became Facebook.

However, Ceglia’s case has been crumbling since the get-go, with setbacks including being dropped by law firms on several occasions, an ill-timed trip to Ireland, civil contempt fines, the wrath of U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York Judge Leslie Foschio, and most recently, in August, an order by Foschio that Ceglia produce the “Kasowitz letter,” a letter from one of the nine law firms to quit the Ceglia case, Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman, to two other firms that eventually bailed, as well — DLA Piper and Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman — warning them that Ceglia’s alleged contract with Zuckerberg was a fraud.

Now, in what is likely the final blow, CBS News reported that Ceglia was charged with one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud, with each carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, of the Southern District of New York, said in a statement, as reported by CBS News:

Ceglia’s alleged conduct not only constitutes a massive fraud attempt, but also an attempted corruption of our legal system through the manufacture of false evidence. That is always intolerable. Dressing up a fraud as a lawsuit does not immunize you from prosecution.

Orin Snyder, an attorney for Zuckerberg and Facebook, said in a statement, as reported by CBS News:

Ceglia used the federal court system to perpetuate his fraud, and he will now be held accountable for his criminal scheme.

Readers: Is this saga finally over?

Handcuffed image courtesy of Shutterstock.