A California state judge rejected the request of Mark Zuckerberg to dismiss the charges of fraud that a neighbor filed against him. A jury will now have to decide if Zuckerberg committed fraud, according to a report from CNN Money. According to real estate developer Mircea Voskerician, Zuckerberg promised to introduce him to his highly-influential friends in Silicon Valley, which apparently never happened.
Judge Lucas has also ruled that Divesh Makan, a financial adviser to Zuckerberg, must face a claim that he was part of a conspiracy to defraud Voskerician. Meanwhile, Voskerician’s attorney, David Draper, has asked the court that he be withdrawn from the case. Draper mentioned two rules which state that his participation in the case could present ethical dilemmas.
The judge is expected to rule on Draper’s petition next week, which may further delay decisions in the case.
A man who owns the house located behind the home of Mark Zuckerberg filed suit against his neighbor, alleging a breach of a promise, which is something that the Facebook founder’s lawyers consider extortion.
According to Mail Online, Voskerician’s realtor openly mocks the Facebook founder, who she refers to as “just a kid.” In November, 2012, Voskerician reportedly sent Zuckerberg a letter saying that he planned to tear down the property behind Zuckerberg’s home and replace it with a 9,600 sq-ft mansion, which he would then sell.
‘The real estate developer was going to build a huge house and market the property as being next door to Mark Zuckerberg,” Mail Online wrote.
Voskerician, a real estate developer who owns the property adjoining Zuckerberg’s backyard, planned to build a new mansion, according to court documents. Instead, Voskerician offered Zuckerberg a part of his land so he could have more privacy. Reportedly, Zuckerberg chose to buy the entire property for $1.7 million “plus [Mr. Zuckerberg’s] promises of personal referrals and business promotion activities.”
After agreeing to pay $1.7million for the rights to the disputed property in 2013, Zuckerberg opted to buy the rights, but Voskerician rejected that deal.
At that point, things got tough.
Zuckerberg’s lawyers, in court filings, say the developer employed “extortive” tactics. They cited a Nov. 28, 2012, e-mail that Voskerician sent to his real estate agent in which he suggested Zuckerberg had a chance to buy some privacy.
“If Mark plans to live there long term,” the letter read,” he has one shot to ensure his privacy is where it needs to be. Mr. Zuckerberg, First I am happy that I could maintain your privacy by selling you the Hamilton property,” Voskerician wrote. “Second, I wanted to meet and shake hands for the transaction and discuss your offering of working with you in the future as you stated you have built Facebook on connections that you have with others in Silicon Valley. One of the reasons I went with your offer other than maintaining your privacy was your offering to help me get my homes, development projects, in front of your Facebook employees and build a relationship with you.”
Zuckerberg’s lawyer says there was never a concrete promise and Voskerician used methods of “extortion.”
[Image via David Ramos/Getty Images News]