NEW YORK — A California state judge has refused Mark Zuckerberg’s request to dismiss fraud charges that his neighbor brought against him.
In the latest turn in this crazy story, a jury will now have to decide if the Facebook CEO perpetrated fraud. Real estate developer, Mircea Voskerician, claims that Zuckerberg promised to introduce him to his high-powered friends in Silicon Valley — which he apparently didn’t follow through on.
And in yet another twist, Voskerician’s attorney David Draper also appealed the court to withdraw from the case. Draper cited two rules that state his participation could present ethical dilemmas.
Judge Lucas is expected to make a ruling on Draper’s petition next week, which could potentially delay other decisions in the case.
What’s going on here?
Voskerician had owned the rights to buy the property adjoining Zuckerberg’s backyard in 2012, according to court documents. He offered to sell his interest in the land to Zuckerberg so the Facebook CEO could gain more privacy.
Zuckerberg opted to buy the rights, but Voskerician rejected that deal. That’s when things got messy.
At a meeting with Zuckerberg’s financial advisors, Voskerician says he offered Zuckerberg a discount, in exchange for introducing him to his Silicon Valley network of friends and associates and providing referrals to help boost his business.
Voskerician says he agreed to sell for $1.7 million “plus [Mr. Zuckerberg’s] promises of personal referrals and business promotion activities” — promises Voskerician claims Zuckerberg hasn’t kept.
Judge Lucas still needs to rule whether the breach-of-contract claims should be thrown out.
David Draper did not respond immediately to requests for comment.