Paul Ceglia, who says that a 2003 contract entitles him to half the Facebook Inc. holdings of the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, showed no deception on a polygraph test about his claim last week, his lawyers said in a court filing.
The June 11 test was disclosed in papers filed yesterday by Ceglia’s lawyers opposing Facebook’s request that it be allowed to immediately inspect the original of the alleged contract and the e-mails Ceglia claims he exchanged with Zuckerberg in 2003 and 2004, before being required to turn over any evidence to Ceglia.
“I respectfully suggest that Mark Zuckerberg undergo the same polygraph examination I have in order to expose who is really telling the truth,” Ceglia, 37, said in a sworn statement submitted yesterday to the federal court in Buffalo, New York, where his suit is pending.
In yesterday’s filing, Ceglia’s lawyers asked the court to order both sides to turn over evidence to determine whether the contract is genuine, including all of Zuckerberg’s documents, e- mails and instant messages relating to Facebook before July 30, 2004. Ceglia asked the court to order both sides into mediation.
Ceglia hasn’t shown the original contract publicly or to representatives of Facebook. The two-page document is in a bank safe-deposit box in Hornell, New York, according to Ceglia’s lawyers.
Stake in Facebook
Ceglia claims he is entitled to a multibillion-dollar stake in Facebook. The closely held company may be worth $69.3 billion, according to Sharespost.com, an online marketplace for investments in companies that aren’t publicly traded. Palo Alto, California-based Facebook runs the world’s biggest social- networking site.
In its June 2 request, Facebook called Ceglia “a hustler” who has engaged in various swindles over the past several years. The company said Ceglia’s claimed contract is “an amateurish forgery” and the e-mails fabricated. Facebook argued it needed to examine the documents immediately to put an end to a fraud on the court.
“Ceglia’s lawsuit is a shell game, shifting and changing with every filing,” Orin Snyder, a lawyer for Facebook and Zuckerberg, said in a statement responding to Ceglia’s filing yesterday. “Ceglia does not dispute that he has a track record of forging documents to rip people off.”
Snyder said polygraphs are easily manipulated and routinely disregarded by courts.
“This case and the tactics of Mark and Facebook have taken and continue to take a terrible toll on me, my wife, our two sons, and even our parents,” Ceglia said in his sworn statement filed yesterday. “I have been repeatedly called a liar in the press and in the papers filed by defendants in this action.”
Ceglia sat for the polygraph test on June 11 in the Erie County, New York, office of Michael Pliszka, who administered the test, according to the court papers.
“The questions asked during the polygraph examination were designed to determine whether Mr. Ceglia had fraudulently forged or doctored the agreement,” Pliszka said. “It is my opinion that the examination results are classified as ‘No Deception Indicated.’”
In his statement, Ceglia said he and Zuckerberg met in the lobby of a hotel in Boston on April 28, 2003, and signed the contract, which Ceglia prepared by cutting and pasting from two different forms.
Ceglia’s lawyers proposed subjecting the original contract to testing, which would be conducted by a mutually agreed or court-appointed expert, to determine the age of the ink on the contract. The necessary tests would destroy part of the document, they said.
Included in yesterday’s filing are the opinions of two document experts and a computer expert.
John Evans, a computer expert hired by Ceglia, said his firm took from him 169 floppy discs, 1,075 compact discs and two computer hard drives. One of the floppy discs has three Microsoft Word documents containing copies of e-mail correspondence between Ceglia and Zuckerberg. Ceglia said he copied the messages from his Internet-based msn.com e-mail.
In an amended complaint filed in April, Ceglia quoted from e-mails he said he exchanged with Zuckerberg, which he said support his claim that the two men formed a partnership that gave Ceglia half-ownership of Facebook when it was started in 2004.
Zuckerberg said in a court filing that Ceglia hired him in 2003 to do Web-development services for StreetFax.com, a business Ceglia was trying to start at the time. Zuckerberg, then a student at Harvard University, signed a contract drafted by Ceglia, which referred only to the StreetFax work, he said. The contract made no mention of Facebook, which Zuckerberg started months later, he said.
The case is Ceglia v. Zuckerberg, 1:10-cv-00569, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York (Buffalo).
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at email@example.com.