Google threatened bartender who found top-secret Android phone
Jamin Barton was offered a free Google phone if he promised not to go to the media with details. Barton denied the offer and instead sent pictures of the Nexus 4 to Wired.
The bartender, who is also a musician, found the phone at the 500 Club in San Francisco’s Mission District. After the phone was held by the cash register for a day, no one had come to claim it.
“We find about 20 a week. Most people come back for them in 15 minutes,” the bartender told Wired. But as the phone remained unclaimed at the bar, Barton began to think that this one was different from most. The Nexus was locked and had no sim card to activate it, making it impossible to contact the owner. On the back of the phone was a “not for sale” sticker and a Google logo.
A tech-savvy friend of the bartender identified the phone as a Nexus 4, which was due to be released on Oct. 29. The friend then contacted Google to verify the authenticity of the Nexus, only to become alarmed.
“Dave sort of freaked out,” Barton said of his friend’s reaction. “’Google lost a phone,
he told me. ‘You just got a guy fired… The Google police are coming.’”
Sure enough, a Google employee showed up at the 500 Club to retrieve the device. Barton was not present, but the Brian Katz, global investigations and intelligence manager at Google, allegedly threatened other employees of the bar. The security officer referred to Barton as an “accessory to a crime” and threatened to have the man arrested if the phone was not returned.
“Katz was like a disappointed mom when I told him Jamin wasn’t here,” said bartender Don Hodge. “He was little but really push, like military… He said he wanted to keep me out of trouble – like I was in any kind of trouble – keep the bar out of trouble. They could file criminal charges, he said.”
Once Barton did give back the Nexus, Brian Katz, global investigations and intelligence manager at Google, offered the bartender a free phone if he agreed not to speak to the media.
Barton had intented to turn the phone in to police, but Katz’s despair to have it back convinced him otherwise.
“He was desperate [to get that phone],” said Ragi Dindial, a friend of Barton’s.