A federal court in Buffalo issued an order this afternoon that confirms would-be Facebook owner Paul Ceglia must come back from Ireland to face the music over missing evidence. The tone of the order and the surrounding circumstances suggest the Ceglia saga may be nearing an end.
In his order (embedded below) which follows yesterday’s three-hour hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio wrote “Plaintiff shall return to the United States to conduct the Search.”
Ceglia, who claims he has a 2003 contract signed by Mark Zuckerbeg giving him control of Facebook, has been in Ireland since September. His departure came shortly after Facebook’s attorneys produced evidence that appeared to show the purported contract was a forgery. In his absence, Facebook has repeatedly pressed to obtain additional evidence and has sought court sanctions against Ceglia and his legal team.
The terms of the order set out a list of items, including six flash drives, that Ceglia must undertake to find in the next month. The judge also required Ceglia, who was sued by the state of New York in 2010 over a wood pellet scam, to provide a sworn declaration about the details of his search.
The terms of the order suggest the judge is out patience with Ceglia, who risks court sanctions if he does not comply with the instructions, or even perjury charges if he does not provide a true account of his search efforts. The order comes weeks after the same judge refused to let one of Ceglia’s lawyers remove himself from the case.
Over the course of a lawsuit, which has attracted international headlines, Ceglia has been through a revolving door of lawyers including an upscale New York firm to, more recently, a small town attorney who has been sanctioned for creating child pornography.
In the last week, Ceglia’s legal team has been attempting a legal and media push-back by suggesting that Zuckerberg and his team have conducted judicial misconduct and deleted emails in an effort to stymie the truth. Alison Frankel of Reuters (NYSE: TRI) today published an account of Ceglia’s newest lawyer’s attempt to go back on offense.
Overall, though it is hard not to regard the latest Ceglia allegations as one last Hail Mary pass. The judge’s order combined with a suspicious set of facts — including the efforts of Ceglia’s lawyers to ditch him and his failure to produce the contract — suggest that Ceglia is unlikely to leave the emerald isle anytime soon.