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Facebook claimant Paul Ceglia gets new lawyer

October 21, 2011 |  3:13 pm


Paul Ceglia has hired a new lawyer to press his case against Facebook after losing his third legal team.

The New York state man who claims he has a 2003 contract that entitles him to half of Mark Zuckerberg's multibillion-dollar stake in the social networking company has hired Dean Boland, an Ohio lawyer who says he focuses on digital technology.

In an interview, Boland said Ceglia hired him a couple of weeks ago after Ceglia found Boland through his website. Boland officially took over the case Friday.

"We have a good working relationship that we have developed quickly," Boland said.

Boland would not comment on his fee arrangement with Ceglia, who has previously said his attorneys are working on contingency.

Ceglia lost his third lead legal counsel this week after he allegedly told San Diego lawyer Jeffrey Lake not to comply with a court order. Lake filed papers in federal court in Buffalo, N.Y., to withdraw from the case. A federal judge has not yet signed off on letting Lake leave the case until he complies with local procedural rules.

Facebook asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio in papers filed Oct. 14 to impose sanctions on Ceglia and his lawyers for failing to turn over evidence.

Boland declined to comment, saying he was not privy to what happened.

Paul Argentieri, the New York lawyer who filed the original complaint in state court in Belmont, N.Y., remains on Ceglia's legal team.

Ceglia claims he and Zuckerberg signed a contract in 2003 that made them partners in Facebook. Facebook says Ceglia fabricated the contract and the e-mails Ceglia contends the two exchanged. Facebook says its computer experts found the genuine contract on one of Ceglia's computers that makes no mention of Facebook.

Boland calls himself a "computer guy" and says he handles technology-related civil and criminal cases in Ohio and across the country.

Boland said Ceglia remains in Ireland where he moved to shield his family from the case but said he is not hiding out there. "That makes it sound like he's in a sandbag bunker looking out with binoculars to see if the troops are arriving in town," Boland said.

"He would much prefer to be here fully engaged in this case and his businesses," Boland added.

He said he expected Ceglia to return to the U.S. for the civil trial.

"We are working with lawyers for Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg to satisfy them about the information and the documents they are seeking. I am fully confident we will be able to do that, so we can get past this phase, and get on to the meat of the case," Boland said.

This is not the first time Boland has found himself in the spotlight of a colorful case. A former prosecutor, Boland has worked as an expert witness for child pornography defendants.

The former assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor in Cleveland carved out a niche for himself in digital imaging technology and the ways pornographers use it to distribute pornography on the Internet.

In a 2004 federal child pornography trial, Boland created pornographic images from photos of children downloaded from the Internet to demonstrate how the imaging technology works and how images can be manipulated. He was sued by the children in the photographs and their guardians. This week a federal court handed the plaintiffs a $300,000 summary judgment. Boland said he would appeal the decision but declined to discuss the case.

In an interview with the Columbus Dispatch in 2005, Boland said as a parent and as a conservative, he's for federal and state laws that make it a crime to knowingly possess child pornography. But to obtain a conviction, the government should have to prove that suspected images of child pornography are real and that the defendant knew they were real.

"I know that I'm doing the right thing for the benefit of our system," Boland told the newspaper. "I'm trying to win the war on the proper way digital images should be used as evidence."


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-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg. Photo credit: Richard Drew / Associated Press