A lawyer who wanted off the case of a New York man suing for an interest in Facebook Inc. has been denied his request to withdraw.

Ohio attorney Dean Boland asked to be removed as Paul Ceglia's attorney in the fall. He said his reasons were private but it was revealed during a court hearing that he was concerned for his safety.

Ceglia of Wellsville at first objected to losing his lead attorney but later agreed to it.

Nevertheless, a federal judge in Buffalo said no, writing Wednesday that Boland's reasons for withdrawing were insufficient and his departure could delay the case.

Ceglia's 2010 lawsuit seeks half-ownership of Facebook based on a 2003 contract he signed with founder Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook says the contract was doctored and the lawsuit's a fraud.