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Surprise! The man who claims to own Facebook can’t seem to keep a lawyer

Confidential to any attorneys reading this post who really, really could do with some work and don’t particularly care about their client or whether or not they have a chance of winning their case: We may have just the job for you. Paul Ceglia is looking for a new lawyer.

If the name “Paul Ceglia” sounds somewhat familiar to you, it should; he’s the guy who claims to 84 percent of Facebook as the result of an amazingly unlikely deal he claims he made with Mark Zuckerberg in 2003 in which he received 50 percent of the company in exchange for $1,000 start-up funding, with an additional 33 percent gained as penalty for late deployment of the finished site in 2004. He initially filed legal claim for what he said was rightfully his way back in 2010, but a succession of events – including, of course, Zuckerberg’s denial and Facebook’s lawyers fighting the case – has kept the case from actually being settled in any sense of the term. Well, now there’s one more wrinkle to the story: Dean Boland, Ceglia’s current representative, has filed his own lawsuit to withdraw as his counsel, becoming the eighth lawyer to withdraw from the case so far.

Boland’s filing states clearly that the request is for personal reasons, and has nothing to do with the strength or lack thereof of Ceglia’s case: “As this court knows, this case and its pleadings are widely followed in the media,” Boland explains. “Therefore, the undersigned feels it is important to emphasize in the strongest terms possible, that the reasons underlying this request, provided to the court for its review, have nothing to do with any belief by the undersigned that Plaintiff is engaged in now or has been engaged in during the past, fraud regarding this case. The personal reasons for this request are contained in the in camera communication provided to this court and will be served by regular U.S. mail upon Mr. Ceglia once the mailing address for his current detention location is determined.”

The mention of possible fraud regarding the case relates to yet another problem for Ceglia: His arrest, last Friday, on suspicion of mail and wire fraud relating to his claims in New York. According to an investigation carried out by the US Postal Inspection Service, Ceglia had not only altered and entirely fabricated evidence to support his claims, he had also destroyed evidence that may prove claims to the contrary; Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara described the actions as “massive fraud” carried out in favor of a “quick payday” should the lawsuit be settled in Ceglia’s favor.

On the plus side, this suggests that any potential replacement lawyer will have not one but two high-profile cases to try. On the minus side, there’s a chance that you may become the ninth lawyer to walk away for mysterious personal reasons. But, hey, if you really need the work…

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