The iPhone-gate saga just gets more intriguing: According to reports from Wired and CNet, two of the major players involved in the sale of the iPhone prototype to tech blog Gizmodo have now been identified.
The case has taken several twists and turns since an Apple software engineer left the iPhone prototype about a month ago in a bar in Redwood City, Calif., 20 miles from the company's headquarters.
The phone was purchased for $5,000 by gadgets Web site Gizmodo, which shared photos and information about the device, made by one of the world's most secretive technology companies. The new model is due to be announced in June.
In an article published Thursday, Wired reportedly identified the finder of the prototype using "clues on social network sites," and confirmed his identity with an unnamed source.
The finder, Brian J. Hogan, a 21-year-old resident of Redwood City, Calif., received the money for handing the prototype over to Gizmodo. According to a statement by Hogan's lawyer, Jeffrey Bornstein, Hogan believed the payment was for allowing Gizmodo exclusive access to the phone — and Gizmodo told him "there was nothing wrong in sharing the phone with the tech press."
Meanwhile, in an article published Thursday, CNet reported that Hogan "had help" in finding a buyer for the phone. According to CNet, 27-year-old University of California at Berkeley student Sage Robert Wallower was the go-between for Hogan and the tech sites.
Wallower, a former Navy cryptologic technician, previously worked as a computer security officer at Securitas and possesses "top-secret clearance," according to his LinkedIn profile (cached version; live page unavailable).
Wallower told CNet in an in-person interview that he was not the person who found the phone, and that he did not see or touch it in any manner. He said he did know who found it, but he didn't identify anyone else.
Wallower reportedly shopped the device around to technology sites on behalf of Hogan. Records indicate that Wallower and Hogan may have been students at Santa Barbara City College at the same time.
CNet also reports that at least three people were connected to the sale: Hogan, Wallower, and an as-of-yet unidentified person.
that people identifying themselves as Apple representatives visited Hogan's home and asked to search the premises. A roommate refused to let them in.
Hogan has been interviewed by investigators, but has not been charged with a crime — and he is willing to cooperate with authorities, says his attorney.
San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe told Wired Wednesday that the person who found the phone is "very definitely one of the people who is being looked at as a suspect in theft," and that "that's what we're still gauging, is this a crime, is it a theft?" Wagstaffe declined to confirm whether or not Hogan was the finder.
Bornstein released a statement to the Web site about his client: "He regrets his mistake in not doing more to return the phone ... Even though he did obtain some compensation from Gizmodo, Brian thought that it was so that they could review the phone."
Last week, with search warrant in hand, authorities seized computers, digital cameras, a cell phone and other items from the home and car of Gizmodo editor and blogger Jason Chen, likely in an effort to track down information about the person who sold the phone.
Gizmodo is challenging the search warrant, saying that it violated shield laws protecting journalists from search-and-seizure without a subpoena. "The San Mateo County district attorney’s office said this week that investigators will not examine the seized materials until the legality of the warrant has been resolved," Wired said.
Msnbc.com also contributed to this report.