Cava 22, the bar where an Apple employee lost control of an unreleased device sometime around July 22.
(Credit: Greg Sandoval/CNET)
Against a backdrop of lost unreleased devices and allegations that its security personnel impersonated policemen, Apple forced its chief of security operations into retirement, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
John Theriault, a former FBI agent who came to Apple in 2007, was the man at the helm of Apple’s security unit while the company was plagued by several high-profile leaks of company trade secrets over the last two years.
Theriault was not immediately available for comment. An Apple spokesman declined to comment. The blog 9to5mac.com first reported Theriault’s departure.
The first incident came in March 2010, when an Apple engineer lost control of a prototype iPhone 4 during a night of drinking in a Redwood, Calif., bar. The handset was obtained by two men who later sold it to the blog Gizmodo, which published details about the phone.
The most recent high-profile security goof occurred in July, when two of Apple’s investigators went searching for an unreleased handset in San Francisco.
In August, CNET reported that Apple’s security personnel went to San Francisco police and told them that an employee had lost a “priceless” unreleased phone, again in a bar, and that they had electronically tracked the device to a home in the city’s Bernal Heights neighborhood.
When plainclothes officers and the Apple employees visited the home, Sergio Calderon, 22, acknowledged being at the bar the night it went missing but denied any knowledge of the device.
David Monroe, Calderon’s attorney, told CNET that badges were flashed and Calderon was informed that if he didn’t voluntarily submit to a search of his home, car, and computer, a search warrant would be obtained. Monroe said that Calderon agreed to the search but wouldn’t have had he’d known it would be conducted by Apple employees.
The San Francisco Police Department says their officers never entered Calderon’s home. The search failed to turn up the errant phone.
After Calderon eventually hired Monroe, who said last month that if he didn’t get answers from the police and Apple about what happened with regards to the search, he would file suit. Monroe said today that he and Apple are in negotiations.
Ira Winkler a security expert and author of the book “Spies Among Us,” said it would be unusual for a company to force out a security chief when the company could still face litigation over actions taken by the security unit.
“While I know nothing directly about the case, my gut tells me that a company does not lay off or induce somebody to quit while it is potentially being accused of wrongdoing led by that person,” Winkler said. “It’s almost an admission that [the company and its employees] did do something wrong and likewise potentially creates a grudge against the company by the former employee. That person could end up being the best witness against them.”