Prosecutors say Brian Hogan, 22, found the prototype at a Redwood City bar, where an Apple engineer had left it, and then with pal Sage Wallower, 28, sold it to Gizmodo.
The transaction made international news among Apple junkies anxious to preview the device.
Hogan and Wallower each face a misappropriation of lost property charge, with Wallower facing an additional charge of possessing stolen property.
The pair should have made an effort to return the iPhone 4 to Apple, the rightful owner, rather than selling it, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
They “marketed the iPhone to multiple people,” Wagstaffe said.
No charges will be filed against the bloggers who bought, disassembled and revealed the phone’s features, prosecutors have said. Gizmodo, and parent company Gawker Media LLC, argued that even though it purchased the phone, it was protected by the First Amendment and state law guarding material gathered by journalists for publication.
Hogan’s attorney, Jeffrey Bornstein, released a statement last month saying his client was “extremely remorseful.”
“Although we do not believe that charges of any kind should have been filed, Brian fully accepts responsibility for his actions,” Bornstein said.
Hogan’s and Wallower’s case is scheduled for a pretrial conference on Oct. 11.
On Wednesday, CNET reported that an Apple employee again left a prototype – possibly the iPhone 5 – at a Mission district tequila bar and restaurant in late July.