Paul Ceglia has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges that he doctored and destroyed evidence in his lawsuit against Facebook Inc. and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg.
The New York man who has become famous for suing Facebook entered his plea in a hearing Wednesday in Manhattan federal court. A federal jury indicted Ceglia on charges of mail fraud and wire fraud. Each of the charges carries a maximum of 20 years in prison if he is convicted.
Ceglia has said for years that he has a 2003 contract that entitles him to half of Zuckerberg’s stake in Facebook. Now federal prosecutors are alleging he faked the contract.
Ceglia has had a series of lawyers who have represented him in his civil case, the latest of which, Dean Boland, asked to withdraw from the case last month.
Boland has denied that his request has anything to do with his client’s criminal charges.
Ceglia has asked that Boland not be permitted to withdraw from his case because his indictment will make it difficult for him to find another attorney. He indicated that Boland has had threats made against him.
Facebook attorney Orin Snyder asked that Boland’s reasons for wanting to withdraw from the case be made public. Boland has until Dec. 4 to respond.