Two men charged over iPhone 4 prototype

11 Aug 2011

Prosecutors at the San Mateo County District Attorney’s office in California have filed criminal charges against two men who obtained a prototype of the iPhone 4 last year and sold it to Gizmodo, a gadget blog.

Prosecutors have charged Brian Hogan, the man who allegedly found the prototype after an Apple engineer left it in a bar. Hogan allegedly sold the prototype to Gizmodo for US$5,000.

An arraignment has been scheduled for 25 August in Redwood City, California.

Prosecutors have also charged Sage Robert Wallower, who is accused of acting as a go-between for Hogan – contacting technology websites while shopping around the prototype. He told CNET last year that he didn’t see the prototype or touch it, but knew who found the device.

More specifically, both men have been charged with misappropriation of lost property and Wallower has also been charged with possession of stolen property.

Gizmodo hasn’t been charged with any crime, nor has its parent company Gawker Media or any of its employees.

A day after Gizmodo published photographs of the prototype, Apple asked local police to investigate the loss of a next-generation iPhone. Gizmodo returned the prototype to Apple after the company’s lawyers asked for it back.

Hogan’s attorney, Jeff Boornstein, said his client has never been in trouble with the law.

“(Hogan) is extremely remorseful for not having done more to return the cell phone he found in a Redwood City bar,” Boornstein said in a statement. “Although we do not believe that charges of any kind should have been filed, Brian fully accepts responsibility of his actions. We are working co-operatively with the district attorney.”

Under California law, anyone who finds lost property and knows who the owner is likely to be but “appropriates such property to his own use” is guilty of theft. Another state law says that anyone who knowingly receives property that has been obtained illegally can be imprisoned for up to one year, CNET reported.

Photo: The iPhone 4