Man charged in Facebook fraud, family are now missing

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NEW YORK (PIX11/AP) — Prosecutors say a man charged with faking an ownership stake in Facebook jumped bail by slicing off an electronic monitoring device and creating a crude contraption to make it appear he was still at home.

The revelation comes as investigators search not only for Paul Ceglia, but his wife, two young sons and their dog. All three are missing after Ceglia cut off his electronic ankle bracelet and escaped his Wellsville, New York, home.

He faces a May trial on a charge he fraudulently claimed ownership in Facebook. His multibillion-dollar civil lawsuit against founder Mark Zuckerberg was thrown out after he was accused of doctoring a software development contract he signed with Zuckerberg in 2003. Authorities say he made it appear Zuckerberg promised him half ownership in return for $1,000 in startup money.

The flight from house arrest may have been in the works for some time, U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick said Tuesday after Ceglia didn’t appear at his scheduled hearing.  Broderick noted that, in September, Ceglia managed to successfully request changes to his bail terms, allowing him to use real estate equity to hire attorneys.

Broderick also suggested Ceglia may be using some of the money to fund his flight from justice.