Gizmodo gets off the hook in prototype iPhone 4 imbroglio; men who sold it charged

“In what is now just a small blip in the entangled world of Apple’s legal dealings these days, Gizmodo will not be officially charged after publishing photos and detailed information about the iPhone 4 prototype last year,” Rachel King reports for ZDNet. “However, the two individuals who didn’t steal but found the iPhone, but then sold it when it wasn’t theirs to sell, are being charged.”

Full article here.

Joshua Melvin reports for The Mercury News, “The Redwood City man who found a lost iPhone 4 prototype in a bar and then sold it to a website that covers technology now faces misdemeanor charges in connection with the incident that drew global attention.”

“Brian Hogan, 22, has been charged with one count of misappropriating lost property for selling the phone to tech site Gizmodo after finding it in a German-themed bar and restaurant in Redwood City last spring,” Melvin reports. “An associate of Hogan’s, 28-year-old Sage Wallower, has been hit with the same charge plus one count of possessing stolen property… Both men are slated to be arraigned Aug. 25 in San Mateo County Superior Court.”

Full article here.

Gawker Media, Gizmodo’s parent company, has published the following statement:

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.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Winston” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Irony: Gizmodo’s Brian Lam leaves phone in restaurant; grateful an honest patron turned it in – August 21, 2010
D.A. withdraws search warrant after deal with Gizmodo’s Chen – July 16, 2010
Court begins examining Gizmodo’s Jason Chen’s computers, devices for 4G iPhone info – June 03, 2010
D8: Steve Jobs discusses passing Microsoft in market cap, AT&T, Gizmodo, much more (with video) – June 02, 2010
Apple claims huge loss over iPhone leak; knew who sold prototype to Gizmodo same day story broke – May 17, 2010
Judge unseals Gizmodo-4G iPhone prototype search warrant – May 14, 2010
Jon Stewart blows it, calls Apple ‘Appholes’ over Gizmodo’s 4G iPhone imbroglio (with video) – April 29, 2010
Rush Limbaugh: The fascinating case of the Gizmodo guys and Apple’s 4G iPhone – April 28, 2010
Gizmodo editor Jason Chen retains criminal defense lawyer in 4G IPhone prototype imbroglio – April 28, 2010
Why Gizmodo could be in deep doo doo over outing of Apple’s 4G iPhone prototype – April 28, 2010
4G iPhone: EFF criticizes police conduct in Gizmodo raid, says invalid warrant used – April 27, 2010
Did Apple call the cops on Gizmodo? – April 27, 2010
Police may allege that Gizmodo committed felony in 4G iPhone imbroglio – April 26, 2010
Police seize Gizmodo’s Jason Chen’s Macs, iPad, more after he posted next-gen iPhone video and pics – April 26, 2010
Police probe how lost next-gen Apple iPhone prototype ended up being purchased by Gizmodo – April 24, 2010
Did Gizmodo break the law with its 4G iPhone story? – April 21, 2010
Gizmodo posts videos, photos of ‘Apple’s next iPhone’ that was lost in a California bar (w/ video) – April 19, 2010

35 Comments

    1. Steve Jobs said in an All Things Digital interview that he’s still at Apple and made comments to him being a victim who had the iPhone stolen from him.

      Personality-wise, this is pretty fitting with how Jobs reacts to such things. It may seem contrary to his temperament, but he didn’t see the guy as failing Apple, instead as a victim (which he was).

      That being said, I haven’t seen the engineer at the bar since the incident, which is a shame because it really is damn good beer (and pretzels).

  1. I go to that bar all the time. It’s Gourmet Haus Staudt in Redwood City and it’s incredible.

    I’m really disappointed that the charges were dropped for those at Gizmodo. It really doesn’t make sense to me.

    Clearly, they knew the iPhone was stolen and paid for it anyway. I don’t see how anything could contradict that. It’s worth noting that there is case precedence here for people being prosecuted for buying stolen goods that they turned in for the reward. The law is very clear… you can’t buy stolen goods.

    I don’t like the message this sends at all. Now, people will think it’s ok to buy stolen goods, thus expanding the market for them and giving greater incentive to thieves.

    1. Prosecution is afraid to be labelled “persecution” by so-called “free press”, so they let the nasty cynical greedy Gawker/Gizmodo/Chen off the hook. That Chen guy and his chief who financed the buying of stolen property have to be in jail.

    2. Agreed, this sets a horrible precedent. Apparently, you’re free to knowingly buy stolen property, and then send “joking” extortion letters to the theft victim, all in the pursuit of “reporting a story”. I can’t wait to see the unintended side effects this decision will have on future journalistic pursuits, or the regurgitated nonsensical blather about “journalistic shield” laws somehow making it okay to buy stolen goods.

      I guess the only justice Apple can hope to get from Gizmodo is to continue snubbing them. Preferably indefinitely.

  2. I’d still like to see Apple go after Gawker for extortion. Remember the letter they sent to Steve asking for more access to Apple executives? Clearly, they were implying a quid pro quo with that. They can plead ignorance on receiving stolen property, I guess, but that was premeditated blackmail.

  3. Gota love the lawyer speak….. misappropriating lost property

    So if I shoot somebody, that’ll be… misappropriating bullets

    Gizmodo is on the shitlist with Apple, the most talked about tech company. Once in while the Gizmodo shills try to spread FUD. But who takes these clowns serious?

  4. At least Jason Chen had to buy a new drawer-full of underwear, right before he ran crying to the relative safety of Lifehacker. Enjoy writing about GTD apps for the rest of your “journalistic” career, douchebag.

    Now if we could arrange to have Jesus Diaz’s garage door kicked in by the Spanish authorities, maybe Gawker would kick the last of the refuse to the curb. He should be writing for Jezebel anyway.

  5. Now, where is it stated that the prosecutor concluded “that no crime was committed by the Gizmodo team”? Oh yeah, no where. Prosecutors never claim anyone incident, they only decline to prosecute, whatever their reasons. Last time a prosecutor claimed a suspect innocent? Yeah. Never. Not even in silly Hollywood movies. Nice try guys. You received stolen property. You DID commit a crime. Period. Just because prosecution was declined (sloppy police work?), does not make you innocent.

  6. Gizmodo thinks they didn’t do anything wrong, and they are entitled to that delusion for so long as their bosses and readers tolerate.

    I’ve never visited gizmodo since, and won’t again.

  7. I don’t think giz should be held responsible.

    Any news outlet would have done the same, they say they wouldn’t… But they would. Look at all the spy photos of the iPhone 5… They all would. they are ALL doing the very same thing, just publishing pics of “iPhones” not under their control.
    I still think the guy left it in the bar, not had it “stolen”.
    I see MANY people being stupid at bars, anywhere really, and leaving cell phones etc everywhere.

    I saw some cheap ass android phone in a store on a shelf. I told the clerk passing by about it (I wouldn’t touch it 😉 )

    The 5k they spent for it is questionable however. Maybe that’s what the court case was about, I really didn’t pay attention to the whole thing.

    Is apple right from banning giz from apple events? Yes.

    1. @FTB,

      You’re the reason why everyone involved in this case needs to be prosecuted.

      “I still think the guy left it in the bar, not had it “stolen”.”

      It doesn’t matter if he left it in the bar, it was still stolen. It’s considered theft as soon as the person took it and did not make reasonable efforts to return it. Specifically, this would’ve been giving it to the bar manager or turning it into the Redwood City Police department.

      The law is very clear here on what you do with found property. You turn it into the police department, and after a period of time, you may receive it if nobody claims it. Otherwise, it’s considered theft, just the same as if you reached into the victim’s pocket, took it and ran off.

      The folks at Gizmodo knew it was stolen, and bought it anyway. That’s purchasing stolen goods. Anyone who does that should be prosecuted. Sure, other news organizations may have done the same thing, but hey, others commit murder and rape. You prosecute people who commit crimes, especially when there are victims.

      1. you should actually read the whole story.

        http://gizmodo.com/5520438/how-apple-lost-the-next-iphone

        “He reached for a phone and called a lot of Apple numbers and tried to find someone who was at least willing to transfer his call to the right person, but no luck. No one took him seriously and all he got for his troubles was a ticket number.”

        the guy DID call Apple. he only noticed the iPhone was odd when he got up the next day and it was bricked, it worked the night before.

        And Gizmodo DID contact Apple as well to get it back to them. Granted they took pics of the iPhone first… as anyone else would.

        “(Our legal team told us that in California the law states, “If it is lost, the owner has three years to reclaim or title passes to the owner of the premises where the property was found. The person who found it had the duty to report it.” Which, actually, the guys who found it tried to do, but were pretty much ignored by Apple. )”

        http://gizmodo.com/5520479/a-letter-apple-wants-its-secret-iphone-back?skyline=true&s=i

        the guy did, Giz did, Apple didn’t acknowledge it, until…. the pics were released. THEN Apple wanted it back. and Gizmodo did.

        Gizmodo paid 5k for the “iphone” that could very well have been a Chinese knockoff that the battery died overnight. They realized that it could very well be the real deal. It wasnt until they got the letter from Apple that it was confirmed. the Letter that Gizmodo asked for.

        I read some of Gizmodo’s stuff, the writters are generally jerks but they do have interesting stories from time to time.

        1. @FTB, YOU should read the whole story and not just suck on the story Giz offered. Also it would help to read up on the law.

          The fact is the person who claimed to find the iPhone had to take it to the police or turn it into the owner of the establishment. Not doing so made him guilty of theft.

          Giz can claim now after the fact that they didn’t know it was stolen, but they paid $5K for it. That’s buying stolen goods. It doesn’t matter if Giz called Apple after Giz bought the iPhone, as the law is clear that contacting the owner after buying stolen goods doesn’t absolve you.

          The reasoning for all of this is that “finding” something can often mean stealing it with intent, but using the “finding” as an excuse. You see a phone on the bar and take it…unless there’s a law that says you must turn it into the police, you could just claim that you found it. Purchasing a “found” phone follows the same logic.

          Additionally, the thought that they called Apple is total BS. Considering few people at Apple would even know such a phone exists, as Giz has reported as the case for many years would clue them into the thought that they were just playing games trying to cover their ass. Again, the law is clear… to the police department the iPhone goes.

    1. It would have if Gizmodo knew that the guy took the iPhone out of the guy’s pocket (stole it) and was selling it to Gizmodo as a Stolen iPhone.

      I think thats what the Court case was about, seeing if Gizmodo knowing purchased a “stolen” iPhone.
      Read the gizmodo links above, they just bought something that could be an iPhone, it could also have been some cheap Chinese knockoff as well.
      Only Verified by Apple it was real after everyone involved tried to contact apple to return it.

      The release of the pictures on their site was the only thing that got Apple to respond, in which Giz complied.

  8. As usual, only those who can afford expensive lawyers go free.

    Truth, honesty and responsibility
    all take a back seat
    to blame, posturing and assertion
    while the poorest suffer the entire brunt
    … of Justice?

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