SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The editor of the Gizmodo technology blog will not be prosecuted for buying a prototype of Apple’s iPhone 4 for $5,000 from two men who found it in bar, authorities said.
The sellers, Brian Hogan and Sage Wallower, face up to a year in prison for misappropriation and possession of stolen property. Given their lack of criminal histories, however, San Mateo County Assistant District Attorney Morley Pitt said it was “unlikely they would receive anything close to that.”
Hogan, 22, and Wallower, 28, found the device after an Apple engineer left it in a Redwood City bar last year. In a move that infuriated Apple, Gizmodo editor Jason Chen bought the phone, then photographed and reviewed it for the website before the product was officially launched.
Pitt said no charges would be filed against Gizmodo or Chen, who did not exhibit criminal intent in purchasing the phone. “The person who found the phone, Brian Hogan, and the person who negotiated the sale, Sage Wollower, they basically were the ones who were trying to profit from the crime,” he said.
The incident has raised broader questions about the balance of press privileges and protection of trade secrets. After police raided Chen’s home in April 2010, Gizmodo’s attorneys argued that Chen was protected under state and federal journalism shield laws. Pitt called that conflict “completely unresolved, not just only in California but throughout the country.”
But this was not the case in which to address those issues, given the bizarre nature of the facts, Pitt said. “It’s never come up before, and it was such an unusual case, I don’t know if this would ever surface again,” he said.
Hogan and Wallower are scheduled for arraignment on Aug. 25 in San Mateo Superior Court.