Facebook Inc. said its inspection of computers turned over by Paul Ceglia, the western New York man who claims he’s entitled to half of Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg’s holdings in the social-networking company, shows “smoking gun” evidence of fraud.
Ceglia sued Facebook and Zuckerberg last year, claiming that a two-page contract Zuckerberg signed in 2003 gave Ceglia half of the company when the service was started the following year.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio in Buffalo, New York, last month ordered Ceglia to let Facebook run forensic tests on his computers, hard drives and electronic storage media, as well as on the contract and the e-mail he says support his claim.
In a publicly filed version of the motion papers, Facebook, citing a confidentiality order in the case, didn’t identify the evidence it says was “embedded in the electronic data on Ceglia’s computer.” Paul Argentieri, a lawyer for Ceglia, declined to comment on Facebook’s claim, citing Foschio’s July 13 confidentiality order.
Facebook’s “smoking gun” claim comes in the context of a court battle between the parties over the pretrial exchange of evidence in the case. On July 1, Foschio entered several orders requiring Ceglia to turn over evidence for testing by Facebook after the company argued Ceglia’s case was a “fraud on the court.” Foschio also ordered Facebook to produce samples of Zuckerberg’s signature and 176 e-mails from Zuckerberg’s Harvard University e-mail account.
Both sides filed papers claiming the other side has failed to comply fully. Facebook also said Ceglia abused Foschio’s protective order by designating all 120 relevant items found on Ceglia’s computers, CDs and floppy disks as confidential. Facebook said it wants the “smoking gun” and other materials made public.
Zuckerberg worked for Ceglia in 2003, writing computer code for StreetFax.com, a failed company that Ceglia was setting up to sell photographs of streets and intersections to insurance companies and other clients. Zuckerberg claims he signed a contract with Ceglia for the StreetFax work. The contract had nothing to do with Facebook, according to Zuckerberg.
The case is Ceglia v. Zuckerberg, 1:10-cv-00569, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York (Buffalo).
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