September 3, 2011
Not Guilty Pleas Entered In iPhone Prototype Theft Case
A pair of men have pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges surrounding the sale of a lost Apple iPhone 4 they found in a bar early last year, the Associated Press reported Friday.
The two men, 22-year-old Brian Hogan and 28-year-old Sage Wallower, both of California, were not in attendance during the Thursday court proceedings. Hogan faces one count of misappropriation of lost property, and Wallower faces that charge, as well as a second for possession of stolen property.
Their attorneys entered their pleas on their behalf, the AP said.
According to Joshua Melvin of the San Mateo County Times, "Police say Hogan stumbled across the then-still-top secret prototype in a German-theme Redwood City bar in March 2010, realized what it was and then started scheming to sell it to tech media outlets, prosecutors say.
"Hogan eventually sold it for $5,000 to scoop-hungry gadget site Gizmodo, which pulled in a massive number of readers with a post detailing the new phone's features. But before long, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs had called personally to get the phone back, and then the police got involved," he added.
Both men are free on their own recognizance, according to Melvin.
They are currently due back in court on October 11, chief deputy district attorney Karen Guidotti said, with a trial date set for November 28. However, an attorney for Hogan told Melvin that "his client has taken responsibility for his poor choice and hopes to work out a plea bargain with prosecutors."
The blogger who purchased the phone, Jason Chen, has not been charged.
According to Declan McCullagh and Greg Sandoval of CNET, their website conducted an in-person interview with Wallower, identified as "a former Navy cryptologic technician who was scheduled to graduate from University of California at Berkeley in 2010." During that interview, he told CNET reporters that he "didn't see it or touch" the phone "in any manner. But I know who found it."
Sandoval and McCullagh note that an 1872 California law decrees that anyone who finds lost property and has a good idea who the owner might be, but "appropriates such property to his own use," will be charged with theft. Similarly, a second state law states that any individual who knowingly received property which has been obtain illegally faces up to a year in prison, they added.
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