Major development in Facebook case: Paul Ceglia's lawyers quit
Status update on Paul Ceglia, the New York state man who claims he is entitled to half of Mark Zuckerberg's multibillion-dollar stake in Facebook: The big-firm lawyers who lent credibility to his case have quit.
Papers confirming the withdrawal were filed Tuesday in federal court in Buffalo.
DLA Piper confirmed in a statement that it withdrew from the case and no longer represents Ceglia.
"Due to our attorney-client privilege obligations, there will be no further comment," the firm said.
Ceglia's claims, which had been viewed with suspicion, got a boost when DLA Piper took his case. Ceglia's new counsel, San Diego's Jeffrey Lake, said in an e-mailed statement: "We are pleased to confirm that our firm has been retained to represent Mr. Ceglia to bring this case to trial so that a jury may review the evidence and decide the case on its merits."
In court papers, Facebook called Ceglia "a career scam artist with a proven track record of falsifying documents and ripping off innocent people." A Facebook spokesman declined to comment on the withdrawal of Ceglia's lawyers.
Ceglia, 37, has claimed that he had a 2003 contract with Zuckerberg, the founder and chief executive of Facebook. But he has not turned over to the federal court in Buffalo the original copies of the contract or emails he claimed to have exchanged with Zuckerberg. Facebook says the document is a forgery and the emails are fabricated.
Facebook acknowledges that Ceglia hired Zuckerberg, then a freshman at Harvard University, to work on a project in April 2003. But Facebook says it has genuine emails between the two that make no mention of Facebook.
-- Jessica Guynn
Photo: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg puts a coat on before walking to a rehearsal at the California Museum for the annual California Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Sacramento in December. Photo credit: Reuters