Back in 2010, photos of a prototype iPhone 4 appeared on Gizmodo nearly two months before the device was officially unveiled by Apple. Gizmodo obtained the device from a person, later identified as Brian Hogan, who was allegedly handed the phone by another patron after it was left on a stool at a Redwood City, California bar by an Apple engineer testing the new iPhone.
Investigations by Apple’s security team and law enforcement focused on Hogan and his friend Sage Wallower, who acted as a middleman in shopping the device to several technology blogs, as well as Gizmodo reporter Jason Chen, who had several computers and other devices seized as part of the investigation.
Ultimately, Gizmodo and Chen were cleared of all charges while Hogan and Wallower were sentenced to probation, community service, and restitution of $250 after pleading no-contest to theft charges. The charges were related to a more than century-old California law requiring finders of lost property who can identify the likely owner to attempt to return the property.
As noted by The Next Web, Hogan has now spoken out on the situation in an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit.
In the session, Hogan claims that he was taken advantage of by Gizmodo, which failed to pay an alleged $3,000 bonus to Hogan predicated on Apple confirming the device was genuine. Gizmodo had paid $5,000 up front for the device, but Hogan notes that he spent much more than that on legal fees related to his defense.
Hogan expresses regrets about how he handled the situation initially, noting that he should have simply left the phone with management at the bar to allow them to attempt to return it to its owner. Still, he points out that in the heat of the moment it was easy to make the decision he did make.
I would have done lots differently looking back now, but how does anyone know what do do in that situation, let alone the 21 year old version of myself. What would you have done if you thought you had an unreleased iPhone? […]
Short answer is yes definitely [regretting taking the phone]. I also regret how I handled the situation from an early stage, I let it get completely out of my hands and into everyone else’s.
Finally, Hogan shares some additional details on the situation, highlighting the stress the publicity caused for his family and his relationships and discussing how his roommate had assisted investigators while he was away from his apartment attempting to maintain a low profile in the wake of publicity from the situation.