Prosecutor charges two in 2010 sale of iPhone 4 prototype

But Calif. county's district attorney passes on Gizmodo, which paid $5K for the lost smartphone, and former editor Jason Chen

A California county district attorney's office has decided not to press charges against Gizmodo or former editor Jason Chen for the blog's part in a 2010 case involving a lost Apple iPhone 4 prototype.

Instead, two other men have been charged with misdemeanors, the San Mateo County District Attorney's office said today.

Brian Hogan, 22, of Redwood City, and Safe Wallower, 28, of Emeryville, have been accused of misappropriation of lost property, and in Wallower's case, also with possession of stolen property.

The property in question was an early version of the iPhone 4 that had been left at a Redwood City bar by an Apple engineer in late March 2010. Hogan was identified by his lawyer as the person who sold the iPhone to Gizmodo, which published photographs and analysis of the device several months before Apple officially unveiled the smartphone.

Most experts, including an experienced tear-down specialist interviewed by Computerworld, had judged the Gizmodo-pictured prototype as the "real deal."

Gizmodo admitted to paying Hogan $5,000 for the iPhone prototype. It later returned the smartphone to Apple after the Cupertino, Calif. company's lawyers asked for it back.

Gawker Media, which operates Gizmodo, applauded the prosecutors' decision today.

"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," Gawker said in a statement posted to its site.

Although California police last year raided Chen's home and seized seven computers, an iPhone, an iPad and other hardware, he was never charged by prosecutors.

Chen, who now works as the managing editor for the Lifehacker website, declined to comment today.

Hogan's attorney, who was not available for additional comment, today issued a statement in reaction to the charge filed against his client.

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

Wallower was identified by CNET News last year as a former cryptologic technician for the Navy and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. According to CNET, Wallower acted as a go-between for Hogan, and had contacted several technology sites about the iPhone.

The San Mateo County District Attorney's office did not immediately reply to questions, including the possible penalties or jail time that Hogan and Wallower face if convicted of their charges.

Hogan and Wallower are scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 25.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

Read more about smartphones in Computerworld's Smartphones Topic Center.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobilesmartphonesAppleconsumer electronicsMobile and WirelessMobile OSes

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?