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Facebook claimant indicted
November 28, 2012 , 3 : 00 am GST
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Paul Ceglia. Pic: Bloomberg News
Paul Ceglia was indicted on charges he faked evidence to support his claims that he signed a contract with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg giving him a multibillion-dollar share in the world's biggest social network.
Ceglia was arrested and charged last month in a criminal complaint with one count each of wire fraud and mail fraud, and was accused of the same crimes by a New York federal grand jury, according to an indictment released by United States Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan.
Ceglia, 39, doctored a legitimate 2003 contract with Zuckerberg, in which the future chief executive agreed to perform coding work for Ceglia's website, into a phony contract "in which Zuckerberg agreed to provide Ceglia with at least a 50 per cent interest in Facebook," according to the indictment.
Prosecutors say Ceglia also fabricated e-mails and destroyed evidence in the case.
The indictment is necessary to bring the western New York man's case to trial. Each of the charges carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Ceglia pleaded not guilty last month. He is set to appear in Manhattan federal court on November 28.
Ceglia sued Zuckerberg and Facebook in 2010, claiming 84 per cent of the company. He later reduced his demand to half of Zuckerberg's Facebook holdings. Facebook, based in Menlo Park, California, said from the start that Ceglia's claim was fraudulent.
Ceglia's lawyer, Dean Boland of Lakewood, Ohio, didn't immediately respond yesterday to a voice-mail message seeking comment on the criminal charges.
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