Ever since Wired outed Brian Hogan as the man who found the infamous prototype iPhone, the level of scrutiny on the Redwood City native has been extreme, to say the least.
Within days, every detail of the sale had been analyzed to the minutia, and Hogan’s life was suddenly subject to the whims of a story hungry media. Now, with the world watching, Hogan has issued a statement through his lawyer Jeffrey Bornstein, claiming that Hogan “made a mistake. He should have just immediately turned the phone in.”
The identity of the iPhone finder is the latest piece to the ever evolving drama of the prototype iPhone that Apple engineer Gray Powell left in a bar in Redwood City while celebrating his birthday. Powell was one of only a handful of people, all personally approved by Steve Jobs, that was allowed to take a prototype off the Apple campus for testing purposes. Powell soon realized his mistake and returned to the bar, but the iPhone was already gone.
According to a statement issued to Wired from Hogan’s lawyer, a patron at the bar asked Hogan if the iPhone was his. Hogan took the phone and asked his friends and others sitting nearby if it was their phone, and when no one claimed it, and left the bar with the phone. Bar employees claimed that Hogan made no attempt to talk to them about the phone or to turn it in.
Hogan took the phone home with him and attempted to connect to Facebook with the phone, but the prototype locked the software and Hogan was unable to ever connect. He then opened the fake cover on the iPhone and realized what he had.
A friend of Hogan’s then offered to call Apple support to report the phone, but Apple has not confirmed that they received a call.
Under California law, Hogan may be charged with theft. The law states that “One who finds lost property under circumstances which give him knowledge of or means of inquiry as to the true owner, and who appropriates such property to his own use, or to the use of another person not entitled thereto, without first making reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him, is guilty of theft.”
After the failed attempts to return the phone, Hogan began to email various news agencies at the end of March, allegedly offering the phone to them under a thinly veiled request for money, according to Wired (Wired states they received an email on March 28th). According to a report from CNet, Hogan had help shopping the phone around. Twenty-seven-year-old Sage Robert Wallflower, a former Naval cryptologic technician and current UC Berkley student, reportedly acted as a go-between for Hogan and the companies they contacted. Wallflower may be facing charges as well, and CNet further claims that there was an as-yet-unnamed third person involved.
Gizmodo soon replied and paid $5,000 for the phone.
“He regrets his mistake in not doing more to return the phone,” says Bornstein told Wired in the statement. “Even though he did obtain some compensation from Gizmodo, Brian thought that it was so that they could review the phone.”
What happened next became headline news. Gizmodo dissected the phone and wrote an article about it. Apple officially claimed the phone and requested its return, but Apple was most definitely not amused.
The days following the return were quiet, which proved to be the calm before the storm. During this time, Apple managed to track down Hogan and send investigators to his house, who requested entry to search the premises. Not surprisingly, Hogan’s roommate refused. Then the police came.
Soon police were kicking down the door to Gizmodo editor Jason Chen’s door and seized his computers, cameras, and credit card receipts. Chen has yet to be charged, but felony charges are presumed to be brewing. Gizmodo is considering suing the Sheriff’s department for what they claim was an unlawful search.
CNet is reporting that the police raid was at the behest of Apple, which in turn claims that the matter is up to the police and it is not involved. Hogan has not been charged yet, but he has been interviewed by the police.
Since the media blitz began, Hogan’s family have relocated to avoid the scrutiny. “This thing has gotten completely, completely out of control,” Bornstein said.
As for Hogan himself, while it is not uncommon for a lawyer to espouse the virtues of their client, if Bornstein’s reports are to be believed, Hogan is arguably one of the best human beings alive.
“Brian has been working part time at a Church run community center where he was teaching swimming to kids age 3 to 10.” Bornstein claimed in the statement. “He also has taught English in China to college students and volunteered at a Chinese orphanage in 2009 while enrolled in a study abroad program through college. In that same year, Brian volunteered in Vietnam to plant a friendship garden.”
“He also volunteers to assist his aunt and sister with fund-raising for their work to provide medical care to orphans in Kenya.”