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Tough luck, Zuck! Man who claimed to own half of Facebook has fraud trial delayed six months
Judge grants his new lawyer time to peruse the evidence
The man accused of trying to cheat Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg out of half of the social network has had his fraud trial delayed by six months so he can take time to go over his case with his new lawyer.
Paul Ceglia, who allegedly forged a contract he claimed gave him ownership of at least half of Facebook, was scheduled to stand trial in New York City on fraud charges on November 17.
On Monday, US District Court Judge Andrew Carter agreed to put off the trial until May 4, 2015 after Ceglia announced he had hired new representation, Reuters reports.
The case relates to a 2010 civil suit Ceglia filed against Facebook, in which he alleged that a 2003 software-development contract that he had signed with Zuckerberg while the latter was a student at Harvard gave Ceglia control of as much as 84 per cent of the social network.
Had the suit been successful, it would have been quite a windfall for Ceglia, as his contract with Zuckerberg was for just $1,000. But when a magistrate judge found the document to be a "recently created fabrication," Ceglia's suit was thrown out and the feds moved in, charging Ceglia with postal and wire fraud.
Ceglia was represented by court-appointed defense attorneys, but he dismissed them during Monday's hearing and appointed New York lawyer Robert Fogg to oversee his case, going forward.
This isn't the first time Fogg has been involved in Ceglia's predicament. In 2013, Fogg unsuccessfully brought suit against the Justice Department to block its prosecution of Ceglia, alleging a conspiracy on the part of prosecutors and judges involved.
On Monday, Fogg said he is appealing both the 2013 decision and the order tossing Ceglia's civil suit.
Prosecutors urged Judge Carter not to allow Ceglia's change of counsel to push his trial back any further, describing the move as "a delay tactic." But the judge allowed the postponement to give Fogg time to look over the evidence in the case, which the lawyer described as "voluminous."
The two sides are next due to meet in court on October 24. ®