Lost iPhone search warrant and affidavit released

The search warrant and affidavit served on Gizmodo editor Jason Chen has been released to the public at the request of several news organizations. Wired.com published a pretty good summary so I’ll just make a few notations.

  • One thing that jumped out at me was the inventory of items seized. That Jason is a real gear head. He has a lot of computers and gadgets.
  • The search was based on 1. Buying or receiving stolen property, 2. Theft of trade secret (by photographing the iPhone), 3. Maliciously damaging property over $400 (by taking the phone apart).
  • Apple confirmed the prototype was lost by Apple employee Robert “Gary” Powell.
  • Apple attorney told the San Mateo sheriff Matthew Broad the publication of the pictures and videos was extremely damaging to Apple because “sales of current Apple products are hurt wherein people that would have otherwise purchased a currently existing Apple product would wait for the next item to be release, thereby hurting overall sales and negatively effecting Apple’s earnings”.
  • Paul Hogan’s roommate Katherine Martinson was the one who snitched him out calling Apple. She believe the act of Hogan plugging the iPhone into her Apple computer would trigger DEFCON 3 and bring the Apple SS police raining down on her. OK, I made that part up but she did rat him out.
  • Steve Jobs sent an email to Gizmodo editor Brian Lam asking for the phone back. Brian replied asking for confirmation that the phone belonged to Apple and also asked Apple not to cut them off.
  • Apple confirmed it was their phone and Brian told Apple they can get the phone back from Jason Chen. Apple retrieved the phone from Jason.
  • When Apple inspected the phone, it was no longer functional claiming it had been damaged during the disassembly.
  • On April 21, 2010, the sheriff department was preparing a search warrant for Brian Hogan’s apartment when his roommate Katherine Martinson called the sheriff to inform them Hogan was aware of the investigation and was removing evidence. By the time the sheriff arrived, they had removed all the evidence.
  • The sheriff subsequently tracked Brian Hogan to his father’s house but the evidence was not with him.
  • Hogan had given the items to his buddy Thomas Warner and Warner proceeded to scatter the items throughout San Mateo County. The computer was stashed at the Sequoia Christian Church, a flash drive was hidden under a bush, and a iPhone sticker was located at a Chevron gas station.
  • On April 23, 2010, a search warrant was issued to search Jason Chen’s residence.
  • There is no mention in the affidavit or the search warrant that the sheriff department or the judge was aware of California’s journalist shield law.
  • So far, the evidence seized has not been inspected pending a review of the validity of the search warrant and if the journalist shield law applies to Jasen Chen.