March 2015. Wellsville, New York State. Paul Ceglia, the man accused of electronic fraud and Facebook fraud, plans his escape. He has chosen a destination: Ecuador. He breaks the tracking ring on his ankle and, to simulate that it is still moving, installs it to a fan in his house. Then, he with his wife, two children – and a dog named Buddy – begins the flight.
And in the week in which the defense of Ceglia has appealed the sentence of his extradition, EXPRESO acquires exclusive access to the documents on the case, including a copy of a contract in which the signatures of the founder of the social network, Mark, appear. Zuckerberg, and the American, 40, required by justice.
The story begins in April 2003. Ceglia publishes an ad requesting a programming expert to help him with the website he has created: ‘StreetFax’. Zuckerberg answers. They fix an agreement. And on the 28th of that month they meet, for the first time, at the Radisson Hotel in Boston.
In a report with Ceglia’s statement, it is detailed: “I drafted the agreement … I modified the document to include the terms that Mark and I agreed … That day, Mark reviewed it and added a line on the first page … then we signed it. “
What does that agreement reveal? According to Roberto Calderón, Ceglia’s lawyer in Quito, the contract established that Zuckerberg must provide programming services to his client. There was a clause. As a web designer, Ceglia agreed to advise him on the creation of a page that was going to be called – then – The Facebook. In return, Zuckerberg had to grant him 50% of the project’s shares. [With one modality: for each day that Zuckerberg delayed in the programming of ‘StreetFax’ it increased 1%].
But, after breaking relations, in 2010 Ceglia puts a lawsuit in Buffalo. He wants to claim his rights. Then he hires two forensic examiners to analyze the agreement. The two sheets arrive at the hands of James Blanco and Larry Stewart. The latter, famous for the reinvestigation he did on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, determines that the contract is valid. Then, between 2010 and 2011 Ceglia starts a civil trial against Facebook and Zuckerberg in the court of Buffalo (New York).
However, Calderón says, by request of Facebook, before the court is constituted, the case is dismissed. Ceglia sends the documents to the lawyers of the founder of Facebook to reach an agreement. But something unexpected happens. In 2012, Zuckerberg’s defense denounces Ceglia in the Southern District of New York. And the prosecutor makes charges against him for electronic fraud.
Ceglia is arrested. But his family pays $ 250,000 bail and the defendant is transferred to his house with a shackle. It seems that calm has arrived. But no. He receives a threat, according to Calderón.
In addition, they warn you that within two days you will be charged with postal fraud. And so it happens. That is why, a few weeks after the trial, in March 2015, he and his family disguised as ‘Amish’: long beard and old clothes …
He makes a journey and arrives in Cuenca, where, in February 2016, his third son was born. And he takes refuge while federal agents look for him. Choose Ecuador because it believes that it is a protectionist country of Human Rights having given asylum to Julian Assange, and because it is religious and traditional.
Attorney Calderón points out that Ceglia, already established in the country, continues to provide advice on a worldwide scale in the creation of web pages. He manages to buy a property in Ballenita and move in with his family. To regulate his situation in Ecuador, he presents documents requesting asylum. This activates the alarms and on August 23, 2018, he is detained for his extradition in Salinas. He is transferred to Quito.
He makes a habeas corpus request and does not get it. Ceglia is arrested at the Provisional Detention Center (CDP) in Quito. Confined to a space of three square meters, man falls into depression. But seek refuge in the library. Read books and investigate. He also teaches English to inmates without charge.
On November 15, 2018, the extradition of Ceglia was ordered for the crime of electronic fraud (postal fraud does not exist in Ecuador). A blow for the family. His defender assures that the National Court based its sentence on the treaty signed with the United States of 1872 and the complementary treaty of 1939, precisely in numeral 16 of article one.
The person who commits “fraud or abuse of trust by a depositary, banker, agent, commissioner, receiver, executor …” will be extradited.
However, this does not speak of electronic fraud, Calderón questions. Nor is your client a banker, commissioner … Therefore, he states that he should not be extradited. And this is the basis for the appeal made last Monday. Still waiting for an answer.
Calderón points out that there is something else that binds Ceglia to Ecuador: his son. The story continues …
He is not the only plaintiff Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have not yet recognized the collaboration and participation of other people in the creation of the social network, says Calderón. The case of Paul Ceglia is not the only one. There are also the Winklevoss twins, who sued Zuckerberg “for stealing Facebook.”
Ceglia maintains that a part of Facebook shares belong to it. In total, 84% taking into account the clause and the days of delay in the programming of ‘StreetFax’. He longs to stay in Ecuador, but, if he were to be extradited, he will “forcefully activate the claim.”
He is a stubborn person, says his lawyer: “He is willing to fight for what is his due”. And they trust that the contract, whose analysis revealed that it is valid, will serve to get it. EXPRESO requested information from the National Court about the case, but until the closing of this edition there was no response. (I)