Facebook Foe Denied Summer Break Relief
MANHATTAN (CN) - An ankle bracelet will continue monitoring the man accused of forging court documents to acquire half of the Facebook fortune, despite the crimp it puts on his travel plans, a federal judge ruled Monday.
Some months before Mark Zuckerberg launched his earliest version of Facebook in 2004, the Harvard student answered a 2003 Craigslist ad by Paul Ceglia to perform coding on Ceglia's now-defunct website StreetFax.
Ceglia claimed seven years later that the $1,000 he paid to Zuckerberg for that work bought a 50 percent interest in what would become Facebook. Though Ceglia said he found a contract and emails attesting to the deal, evidence that he may have forged the contract led Ceglia to take off in 2011 for his mother's homeland of Ireland.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio in Buffalo, N.Y., quickly ordered Ceglia back to the United States, and federal prosecutors indicted him in what they called a multibillion dollar fraud scheme in late 2012.
Ceglia has spent a year and a half under strict pretrial supervision, which includes an ankle bracelet.
Barred from straying more than 15 miles from his house, pre-trial services or the Manhattan federal court where he will be tried on Nov. 17 this year, Ceglia tried Monday to relax these supervision terms for the season.
Prosector Janis Echenberg warned that the restrictions are necessary to keep Ceglia from crossing the border to Canada where he could fake travel documents that would let him make his way back to Ireland. "While we have an extradition treaty with Ireland, it is rarely ever enforced," Echenberg said.
Ceglia, a resident of Wellsville, NY, lives roughly a two-hour drive away from the Canadian border, according to Google Maps.
Brushing off the prosecutor's feared itinerary as "pure speculation," Celgia's public defender Annalisa Miron said that pretrial services commended her client for being "totally compliant."
Ceglia, who had been listening into the hearing by phone, tried to chime in to describe why he wanted his bail terms loosened.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter cut off Ceglia and warned against speaking on the record before consulting with his lawyer.
Miron took Ceglia off speakerphone for a brief conversation and then said Ceglia would "like to be able to enjoy the summer with his children" and "would like to go hiking."
She added that the ankle bracelet had been an "embarrassment" for her client, who has developed a rash after wearing it for more than 18 months.
Although Carter refused to alter that aspect of the monitoring, the judge did eliminate Ceglia's curfew and set a July 21 hearing date to resolve pending motions before trial this fall.