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iPhone 4 prototype duo get a year’s probation

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The two men who sold an iPhone prototype left in a Silicon Valley bar have escaped jail and will instead serve one year’s probation, 40 hours of community service and pay $250 in restitution to Apple.

Sage Wallower and Brian Hogan, both in their 20s, were charged after Hogan found a prototype iPhone 4 in the Gourmet Haus Staudt beer garden last year. He and Wallower then hawked the handset to various media outlets before selling it to Gizmodo for $5,000 cash, a sum that was exchanged in a Menlo Park Starbucks. Gizmodo’s editor Jason Cheng had his house raided by police, but charges were dropped on Tuesday.

The prosecution had asked for jail time for the two, but after they pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor of misappropriation of lost property San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Stephen Hall awarded them probation and community service. Hogan's defense lawyer Jeff Bornstein said that the idea had been a bad choice inspired by a few drinks, and his client felt deep regret.

"Hopefully, at some point he'll be able to tell the story instead of living it," Bornstein told the San Jose Mercury News.

Earlier testimony had revealed that Hogan had shown little sympathy with the plight of Gray Powell, the luckless employee who lost the closely guarded prototype. The case caused a huge fuss inside Apple, Steve Jobs called Cheng personally to get the device back, and the speed of the raid raised questions about Apple’s relationship with the local police.

"They are student technology geeks who had no intent to break the law," said Waller's attorney, Elizabeth Grossman. "Their youthful enthusiasm got appropriately sanctioned."

Another apparent Jesus phone prototype was left in a bar almost a year to the day after the iPhone 4 incident. The handset was apparently sold on Craigslist and one man suspected of having it had his house searched by local police, and possibly by Apple employees who were accompanying them. No charges have been filed in that case.

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