updated 09:30 pm EDT, Tue October 11, 2011
Pleaded no contest to misdemeanor theft
Brian Hogan, the man who obtained a lost iPhone 4 prototype and later admitted he "regretted" not returning it to Apple, was sentenced to one year of probation, 40 hours of community service and will pay Apple $250 in restitution, CNet reports. A friend of Hogan's named Sage Wallower, who allegedly helped Hogan "shop" the prototype to media outlets, also received the same sentence. The pair were found guilty of misdemeanor theft earlier today after originally pleading not guilty.
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the website that he had asked for some jail time, but the judge factored in Wallower's military service and Hogan's ongoing college studies, along with the lack of any prior criminal record, and decided on probation instead. Hogan told the court that he was at the German beer garden Haus Staudt in April of last year when an unnamed patron handed him the phone after finding it on a nearby stool (later revealed to have been lost by Apple engineer Gray Powell). Hogan took the phone, said he asked others if it belonged to them, and eventually left with the device.
After later removing the fake cover, Hogan realized that he had a prototype of what was then Apple's unfinished next iPhone. A friend of Hogan's offered to call AppleCare on Hogan's behalf, but that was evidently the only attempt to return the phone to Apple prior to Hogan and Wallower shopping it around to media outlets. A number of journalists were contacted, but most refused because of the thinly-veiled request for money. Gizmodo.com soon paid more than $5,000 for the device, which they eventually returned to Apple -- but not before running extensive stories and photos of the device.
Following the Gizmodo story, police launched an investigation to discover how Gizmodo had obtained the prototype, including searching editor Jason Chen's home and threatening prosecution. Ultimately, planned charges against Chen were dropped. Hogan was arrested after his roommate called Apple security and identified him as the source of the iPhone. Hogan later expressed remorse over the entire incident and how he had handled it.
Details revealed during the trial showed that Hogan and his friends went to great lengths to hide evidence related to his confiscation of the prototype, including friends scattering computers and other technology around the community where Hogan lived. Hogan's computer was later found hidden in a church, while a thumb drive was recovered from a bush by the side of the road, and serial-number stickers from the prototype were located in the parking lot of a gas station.
Ironically, another prototype -- presumably of the now-released iPhone 4S -- was also lost at a San Francisco bar this year. Apple Security tracked the iPhone to the home of a bar patron, but a controversial search led by San Francisco police failed to recover the device. [via CNet]