Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg were ordered by a federal judge on Friday to release documents related to communications with Paul Ceglia, who claims to have lent Zuckerberg money for a stake in the company.
Judge orders Facebook to release documents
Ceglia, who has been a fugitive since last month, says he gave Zuckerberg $1,000 as startup money in exchange for 50% of the company. The trial was set to start in May, but his lawyer requested documents related to his communications to be released. Facebook however, said it would only release them after Ceglia is caught.
District judge Vernon Broderick said he received a request from Facebook and Zuckerberg to suspend an order to submit documents that were requested by Ceglia’s lawyer Robert Ross Fogg. The documents in question include all the electronic communications Zuckerberg had with Ceglia concerning the contract during an 18 month period from 2003.
Last month, the fugitive cut off his electronic monitoring tag and fled. His wife, two children and dog are now missing from their home in Wellsville, 70 miles southeast of Buffalo.
Ceglia faces criminal charges for creating false documents showing that Zuckerberg promised a part of Facebook. The charges came after Ceglia’s 2010 civil lawsuit was dismissed in which he claimed that he gave Zuckerberg money. Prosecutors said an analysis of Ceglia’s computers showed he had created false documents.
And last week, prosecutors asked Broderick not to force Facebook to turn over the documents, saying that it would “reward Ceglia’s flouting of the judicial process while unreasonably drawing on the resources of the government and the authority of the court”.
Zuckerberg for his part said he did not have the idea of Facebook for months after he signed a contract with Ceglia, to make some software for him.
There is a $5000 bounty on Ceglia’s head, according to Bloomberg. The Marshal Service said in a statement that the amount is offered for “information leading to the location and arrest” of Ceglia.
Larry Banks is a keen follower of technology and finance. He has worked for a variety of online publications, writing about a diverse range of topics including mobile networks, patents, and Internet video delivery technologies.