Finders of iPhone prototype sentenced

The two men accused of selling a lost iPhone 4 prototype to Gizmodo last year have given up the fight and changed their pleas from ‘not guilty’ to ‘no contest’.

They now face a year’s probation, 40 hours of community service and  a fine of $250 each to be paid to Apple.

Brian Hogan, 22, found the phone in a bar in Redwood City, where it had been accidentally left behind by Apple engineer Robert Powell. He then, with the help of Sage Wallower, 28, flogged the phone to gadget site Gizmodo for $5,000.

Pleading ‘no contest’ isn’t quite the same as ‘not guilty’ – it gives the two the option of pleading not guilty should Apple later decide to pursue a civil trial.

The charge of theft was based on California laws stating that hanging on to lost property while having a good idea of who the owner is amounts to theft. Similarly, receiving property knowing it’s been obtained illegally is a crime.

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe pushed for a five-day custodial sentence, but was overruled by the judge on the basis of their previous good character.

Apple’s a bit of a butter-fingers when it comes to iPhone prototypes. The company’s reported to have lost another one just a few weeks ago, again in a bar. That one has failed to surface elsewhere, however.