News - September 7, 2011

Two plead not guilty in iPhone leak case

• DA says deal was done in Menlo Park.

by Patricia Decker

Two men suspected of selling an iPhone 4 prototype that was lost last year in a Redwood City bar pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges in San Mateo County Superior Court on Sept. 1.

Prosecutors from the county district attorney's office have said that the deal was consummated at the Starbucks coffee shop at 3590 Alameda de las Pulgas in unincorporated Menlo Park.

Brian John Hogan, 22, and Sage Robert Wallower, 28, are suspected of selling the leaked phone to a techonology blog, Gawker Media's Gizmodo, after it was found at the Gourmet Haus Staudt restaurant on March 18, 2010.

The men were each charged with one count of misappropriation of lost property after they allegedly arranged to sell the device for $5,000 to the blog, which then disassembled it and posted details about the prototype on its website.

The man who bought the phone, Jason Chen, was an editor at Gizmodo at the time. To charge him with a crime, prosecutors would have had to prove a) that he is not a journalist as defined by the state's "shield" law, which protects a journalist from revealing sources for stories; and b) that he was knowingly in receipt of stolen property, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the Almanac.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said the two men did not appear in court Sept. 1 but that Mr. Hogan's attorney, Jeffrey Bornstein, and Mr. Wallower's attorney, Elizabeth Grossman, entered not-guilty pleas on their clients' behalf.

A pretrial conference was scheduled for Oct. 11 and a trial date was set for Nov. 28, Ms. Guidotti said.

No charges were filed against Gizmodo employees.

News reports surfaced Sept. 1 that an iPhone 5 prototype was recently lost by an Apple employee at a San Francisco bar.

According to a CNET report, the phone was lost in late July at Cava 22, a restaurant and bar in San Francisco's Mission District. The article goes on to say that San Francisco police and Apple employees visited a home in Bernal Heights where the phone had apparently been traced.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said the company is declining to comment on the matter.

San Francisco police spokesman Albie Esparza said he has not been able to find a record of a police report filed by the company for its loss. He said Sept. 1 that police were awaiting a response from Apple.


Posted by publicity stunt, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Both of these incidents were guerrilla publicity stunts for Apple products, right? Apple employees aren't really dumb enough to get drunk and lose their top secret iphone prototypes in bars, right? They planted them there on purpose to get free publicity. The cops are just pawns in the stunts. And the kids who actually found the phones are just collateral damage.

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