Gizmodo not charged in Apple iPhone 4 prototype purchase

Gizmodo gets off, but the guys who found the iPhone 4 and sold it to the gadget blog are charged with misdemeanors.

A California district attorney's office has decided not to press charges against either Gizmodo or former Gizmodo editor Jason Chen for purchasing an iPhone 4 prototype in March 2010 and exposing it to the world.

I know, you've been hearing rumors about the iPhone 5 for so long that you probably don't even remember the iPhone 4 -- especially not back when it was just a top-secret prototype found in a bar.

Here's a quick refresher: in March 2010, Apple engineer Gray Powell accidentally left his iPhone 4 prototype in a bar. A patron at the bar, Brian Hogan of Redwood City, picked up what he thought was an iPhone 3GS. Hogan attempted to return the device to Powell (checking the phone to see the owner's Facebook page), but discovered the device had been bricked the next morning. Hogan then inspected the device, discovered it wasn't an iPhone 3GS, and contacted Apple to return it.

When Apple didn't respond to Hogan's attempts, Hogan then got his friend, Sage Wallower, to shop the device around to gadget blogs and tech publications. Gizmodo picked up the device and paid Hogan/Wallower a nifty sum of $5000. Then Gizmodo published an exposé of what it believed to be the new iPhone 4 on its blog, and all hell broke loose. It ultimately culminated in Gizmodo being investigated, and Chen's home office being raided.

The Culmination

Well, now Gizmodo is getting off scot-free -- Gawker Media, Gizmodo's parent company, posted an official statement on the matter Wednesday:

"We are pleased that the District Attorney of San Mateo County, Steven Wagstaffe, has decided, upon review of all of the evidence, that no crime was committed by the Gizmodo team in relation to its reporting on the iPhone 4 prototype last year. While we have always believed that we were acting fully within the law, it has inevitably been stressful for the editor concerned, Jason Chen, and we are glad that we can finally put this matter behind us."

Hogan, 22, and Wallower, 28, aren't so lucky, however -- both have been charged with misdemeanors. Hogan has been charged with misappropriation of lost property, while Wallower has been charged with both misappropriation of lost property and possession of stolen property.

Hogan's attorney, Jeffrey Bornstein, issued a statement Wednesday in reaction to the charge filed against his client:

"Although we do not believe that charges of any kind should have been filed, Brian fully accepts responsibility for his actions. We are working cooperatively with the District Attorney to resolve this misdemeanor charge promptly."

Hogan and Wallower are scheduled to be arraigned on August 25.

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal

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