August 11, 2011, 12:22 PM — A Silicon Valley district attorney announced yesterday that the DA's office would not to indict the reporter who bought an important piece of evidence for a great story on a key subject for his publication because he was not acting out of financial greed or criminal intent.
It was a good decision from Steven Wagstaffe, San Mateo County district attorney, whose staff had to weed through the evidence gathered during a police investigation fueled by a Steve Jobs temper tantrum who had behaved like a criminal, who was an idiot and who may have acted properly during the loss and recovery of a piece of Apple property with roughly the national-security status of the plans for a stealth ICBM.
In March, 2010 an Apple employee stopped in a Bay Area bar for a drink after work and a chance to show off the unreleased, unannounced, ultrasecret prototype of an Apple iPhone 4 to his or her friends.
They were all so excited about it, they left it in the bar when they took off, which must have violated an Apple security guideline or two.
Because the bar was in the Bay Area, which is almost entirely populated by Apple fanbois and webheads, two other guys in the bar recognized the lost phone as a potentially valuable prototype, not just something else to be tossed into the Lost and Found.
The two – Brian Hogan, 22, of Redwood City and Sage Wallower, 28, of Emeryville are being charged with misappropriation of lost property for selling the prototype to Gizmodo instead of returning it to Apple as they should have done.
Gizmodo reporter Jason Chen, who recognized the prototype as a major story, bought it, wrote about it, ran pictures of himself holding it and was lucky enough to be out of the apartment when an elite police task force broke down his door and arrested the place, seizing "a long list of items" as evidence.
Evidence of what wasn't clear at the time and isn't now.
Illegal search and seizure?
The pseudo-SWAT team that pulled the raid was the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT) that works directly for the Santa Clara County district attorney's office and includes agents from the FBI, Secret service as well as local and state police.