Man who sued Facebook pleads not guilty to fraud

NEW YORK Thu Nov 29, 2012 4:44am IST

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a question and answer session at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, California September 11, 2012. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach/Files

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a question and answer session at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, California September 11, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Beck Diefenbach/Files

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York businessman accused of attempting to defraud Facebook (FB.O) and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, out of billions of dollars pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to fraud charges.

Federal prosecutors last month charged Paul Ceglia, 39, with faking a business contract that purported to show that Ceglia owned a large stake in Facebook. Ceglia had sued Zuckerberg in 2010 claiming he was owed the stake.

Wednesday's 30-minute arraignment hearing, before Judge Andrew Carter, was Ceglia's first appearance in U.S. district court in Manhattan.

Ceglia was arrested at his home in Wellsville, New York, last month. He was later released on bail.

He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted on the charges of mail and wire fraud.

The case is USA v. Paul Ceglia, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 12-mj-01171. (Reporting by Casey Sullivan; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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