• Court Unseals Documents in Gizmodo iPhone Case

    After multiple requests from media outlets, a San Mateo judge just unsealed documents connected to the prototype iPhone that was revealed on Gizmodo last month. Under California law, the papers are supposed to remain sealed for 10 days after a search is completed. The search, however, was on April 23 and the documents have been withheld all this time. The court papers confirm pretty much everything that's been reported on the case, with some interesting - and in many cases, amusing - new details coming to light. In many places, the affidavit reads like the outline of a bad teen summer comedy.

    Robert "Gray" Powell, the Apple engineer who was supposed to have lost the phone, claims he never took it out of his bag. He told the police that it could have fallen out, or have been taken out, but that he was in the bar up until right near closing time, and that whoever had taken the phone couldn't have been there for more than 15 minutes longer. Brian Hogan, age 21, was the guy who found or took the iPhone and sold it to Gizmodo for $5,000, which has been known for some time. One twist that is new is that Hogan was supposed to get an additional $3,500 from "another source," and a bonus on top of that when Apple finally announced the phone.

    This, however, was before his roommate turned on him. Katherine Martinson called Rick Orloff, Apple's director of information security to tell him that Hogan had the prototype, and that he'd already IDed Powell as the owner after finding the Apple engineer's Facebook page still open on the iPhone. According to Martinson, Hogan had said “Sucks for him, he lost his phone. Shouldn’t have lost his phone.” Martinson was scared, according to a police report, because Hogan had user her laptop to try and restore the phone, and thought that Apple would be able to track her down. “Therefore," the police detective wrote in the affidavit, "she contacted Apple in order to absolve herself of criminal responsibility."

    Martinson called the police again just before midnight to warn them that Hogan and their other roommate, Thomas Warner, were getting rid of all the evidence about the iPhone and leaving in two separate cars. The detective wrote that he tracked Hogan down at his father's house and sweated out of him - as he sat on a bed upstairs with his girlfriend - that he had hidden his computer in a church near by. He got both Hogan and his girlfriend to call the other roommate, Warner, to get him to bring the rest of the evidence to the house. Warner finally rolled up at 1am... and was promptly arrested on two outstanding unrelated misdemeanor warrants. After Warner spilled his guts, police recovered the iPhone's ID sticker at a Chevron station, as well a 512MB thumb drive and 1GB compact flash card hidden under a bush.

    The whole drama was presented to the court in order to get a warrant to search Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's apartment. The warrant was issued on April 23, and a number of computers and other property was taken. Police are determining whether Chen can be charged with receipt of stolen property, copying of a trade secret, and destruction of property worth more than $400 (Apple claims Gizmodo's teardown damaged the iPhone).
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