A New Yorker who spent nearly three and a half years as a fugitive after being accused of attempting to defraud Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg was arrested in Ecuador and could be extradited, prosecutors said Thursday the United States.
Paul Ceglia, 45, a salesman for wood pellets Wellsville, in the state of New York, had been missing since March 2015, when he took off his electronic ankle bracelet and fled with his wife, two children and a dog.
Ceglia fled less than two months before his scheduled trial in Manhattan federal court for mail fraud and wire fraud charges, for her alleged falsification of documents to extort Facebook and Zuckerberg.
In a letter to US District Judge Vernon Broderick, prosecutors said Ceglia was arrested in Ecuador on Thursday morning and would appear in court Friday in Quito, the capital of the South American country.
Prosecutors added that they will send updates to Broderick as they learn more about Ceglia’s extradition procedures.
The criminal case arose after Ceglia introduced in 2010 a civil lawsuit against Zuckerberg by claiming it while studying at Harvard University, signed a contract in 2003 that gave half of a web social networking site planned then it became Facebook.
US District Judge Richard Arcara in Buffalo dismissed Ceglia’s lawsuit after another judge said the contract was adulterated.
Ceglia was criminally charged in November 2012.
Robert Ross Fogg, a lawyer for Ceglia in the criminal case, said in a telephone interview Thursday he was “relieved” that Ceglia appears to have been located without incident and that “hoped he and his family were safe.”
He also assured that there was a “solid case” for Ceglia’s defense and that the supposed agreement with Zuckerberg “was really a contract”.
Facebook did not respond immediately to a request for comments. (I)