Misdemeanor charges will be filed against two men who allegedly obtained a misplaced iPhone 4 prototype and sold it to tech blog Gizmodo last year, sending international shockwaves through Apple-junky circles champing at the bit to get a look at the then-unreleased device.
The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office said in a press release that 22-year-old Brian Hogan, of Redwood City, and 28-year-old Sage Wallower, of Emeryville, will face misappropriation of lost property charges.
Wallower, who the DA’s Office believes was the intermediary who sold the phone to the Gizmodo blogger for $5,000, also faces a possession of stolen property charge because he was clearly aware the phone didn’t belong to Hogan, according to Assistant District Attorney Morley Pitt. Pitt said the office has no plans to seek charges against employees of Gizmodo, including blogger Jason Chen, whose Fremont home was raided by San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office deputies in April 2010 after they spoke with concerned Apple officials, according to court documents.
Computers, servers, cameras and other devices were seized from Chen’s home while he was away, but the warrant was eventually voided by a judge in July 2010. The items were returned to Chen and Gizmodo agreed to cooperate with investigators in the case.
Gizmodo, and its parent company Gawker Media LLC, argued at the time that even though the company paid for the phone, it should be protected by the First Amendment and state shield law guarding material gathered by journalists for publication.
The phone was originally misplaced by an Apple employee who was celebrating his birthday at a Redwood City restaurant and bar called Gourmet Haus Staudt, about 20 miles from company’s Cupertino headquarters.