Now Paul Ceglia might even owe Facebook legal fees

The man who claims Mark Zuckerberg signed a contract giving him half of Facebook is dealt another legal blow.

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Paul Sloan is editor in chief of CNET News. Before joining CNET, he had been a San Francisco-based correspondent for Fortune magazine, an editor at large for Business 2.0 magazine, and a senior producer for CNN. When his fingers aren't on a keyboard, they're usually on a guitar. Email him here.
Paul Sloan
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Paul Ceglia Facebook profile photo Facebook

As if Paul Ceglia doesn't have enough problems.

Now the man claiming to own half of Facebook -- who last month was arrested on fraud charges for allegedly fabricating evidence in the case -- might end up paying part of Facebook's attorneys fees.

Ceglia, who was released from jail today after posting a $250,000 bond, is continuing to fight his civil lawsuit against Facebook and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The case now centers around why additional hard copies of a purported contract between Ceglia and Zuckerberg were destroyed. Ceglia's legal team has said that additional files -- one of which Ceglia made on a grocery store copier near his home in Wellsville, N.Y. -- were discarded as "waste paper" or "trash." Facebook says Ceglia's explanation was "cryptic" and "evasive."

On Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio ordered Ceglia's legal team to submit an "affidavit confirming, in writing and under oath, that all hard-copies of the purported contract" created by Ceglia before June 30, 2010, had been turned over to Facebook for examination or destroyed. He also told Facebook to tally up a partial total of how much the social network has spent on "costs and attorney's fees" battling claims of the case.

This dispute began in 2010 when Ceglia filed a lawsuit claiming that he hired Zuckerberg through a Craigslist ad in 2003 to write code for a project called StreetFax. Ceglia claims he paid Zuckerberg $1,000 for coding work; he also alleges that he invested $1,000 in Zuckerberg's The Face Book project, which he claims gives him a 50 percent interest in the multibillion-dollar company.

The recent developments have not been good for Ceglia, to say the least. He faces up to 40 years in prison for two charges, which relate to Ceglia using the U.S. Postal Service and e-mail to transmit materials that prosecutors argue are fraudulent. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara alleged that Ceglia inserted a fake page into a contract signed by him and Zuckerberg to give the appearance that Zuckerberg promised Ceglia 50 percent ownership in the company.

Then, last week Judge Foschio allowed Facebook to present what appears to be a damning forensics report that concludes the purported "contract" giving Ceglia part ownership of Facebook was altered.

Judge Foschio gave both sides 10 days to submit their affidavits.