April 30, 2010, 10:53 AM — A 21-year-old California man was identified by his lawyer Thursday as the person who sold a prototype iPhone to the Gizmodo technology site, which published photos and other information about the unreleased device.
Brian Hogan, a college student who lives in Redwood City, Calif., was at a local bar with friends when another patron handed him the phone, said Jeff Bornstein, an attorney with San Francisco law firm K&L Gates, in an e-mailed statement. "Brian asked others near him if the phone belonged to them," said Bornstein. "When they disclaimed ownership, Brian and his friends left the bar with the phone."
Hogan was later paid $5,000 by Gizmodo for the phone, but he was under the impression that the payment was strictly for access to the device so that the site could review it, Bornstein maintained. "Brian believed -- and Gizmodo emphasized to him -- that there was nothing wrong in sharing the phone with the tech press," his lawyer wrote. "Brian has been and is willing to cooperate [with authorities]."
Charges have not been filed against Hogan, said Stephen Wagstaffe, chief deputy district attorney for San Mateo County, in a telephone interview. "The investigation is ongoing," said Wagstaffe, "and investigators are still determining whether a crime has been committed."
If authorities classify the incident as a theft, Hogan could be charged, Wagstaffe said. "Anyone who was in possession of the phone would be a suspect in a theft case, assuming it's determined that a crime has been committed," Wagstaffe added.
That also means that Jason Chen, the Gizmodo editor who purchased the prototype from Hogan, then photographed , disassembled and analyzed the iPhone, could face similar charges.
Last Friday, California police with the REACT (Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team), a multi-county task force that investigates high-tech crimes in the Silicon Valley area, served Chen with a search warrant and removed several personal computers, hard drives and digital cameras from his home.