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Facebook claimant accuses Zuckerberg of destroying e-mails

Paul Ceglia claims the Facebook co-founder deleted e-mails that describe a partnership he says entitle him to half ownership of the social network.

Paul Ceglia, the man who claims he is owed half of Facebook, has asked that co-founder Mark Zuckerberg be sanctioned for allegedly deleting e-mails that describe their partnership.

Ceglia said in papers filed yesterday in a federal court in Buffalo, N.Y., that Zuckerberg destroyed messages from his Harvard University e-mail account after receiving a litigation hold on it contents, according to a Bloomberg report. He also sought a court order to prevent Facebook and Zuckerberg from disputing the authenticity of Ceglia's purported e-mail correspondence.

Ceglia claimed in a lawsuit filed last year against Facebook and its CEO that Zuckerberg entered into a contract with Ceglia in 2003 to design and develop the Web site that would ultimately become Facebook--a company now with an estimated value of more than $70 billion.

Ceglia has cited more than a dozen of e-mails purportedly between himself and Zuckerberg that detail discussions on design, development, business plans regarding the development of Facebook. Ceglia said he cut and pasted the e-mails into a word processing program and printed them out.

"These filings by Ceglia and his latest lawyer are truly delusional," Facebook attorney Orin Snyder told the news agency. "These are the desperate acts of a man whose fraudulent lawsuit has now been fully exposed."

Ceglia has said he hired Zuckerberg through a Craigslist ad to write code for a project called StreetFax and paid Zuckerberg $1,000 for coding work; he also allegedly invested $1,000 in Zuckerberg's The Face Book project, which gave him a 50 percent interest in the company, as well as an additional 1 percent interest for every day after January 1, 2004, that The Face Book was delayed.

Zuckerberg and Facebook have previously called the alleged Facebook contract a "cut-and-paste job" and described the purported e-mails as "complete fabrications." Electronics forensics experts were unable to find the alleged e-mails in Zuckerberg's account, finding instead e-mails that "contradict Ceglia's made-up story," Facebook said in a June filing.