NEW YORK, March 25 (UPI) -- Paul Ceglia, who claims he deserves half the value of Facebook, has been missing since the weekend, and his lawyers suggest he may not be a fugitive.
In a federal lawsuit, Ceglia, 41, said he contributed $1,000 in start-up funding to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, when Zuckerberg was 18 and at Harvard University, in exchange for a 50 percent share in the company. Ceglia was charged with fraud in 2012 for allegedly criminally forging a contract, and was ordered to wear a monitoring device on his ankle as a part of his $250,000 bail conditions. His trial is scheduled to begin May 4, and Ceglia could receive 40-year prison sentence if convicted.
Two weeks ago, Ceglia and his family disappeared from their Wellsville, N.Y., home, and authorities found the monitoring device attached to a homemade and crudely-constructed assemblage of ceiling-mounted parts used "to give the appearance he was still present and moving within his home."
A judge declared him a fugitive, but Ceglia's lawyers, in a request for a dismissal of the case, suggested last week circumstances "may well have led him to despair of ever receiving a fair and impartial hearing in the courts. This, we acknowledge, is not an excuse if he did decide to flee with his family, but it is an explanation which this Court can take into account when it decides whether to dismiss the pending civil appeals which are separate from the pending criminal case."
The federal appeals court in New York ordered the lawyers to respond by Friday on why the judge should rule in favor of the appeal.