Apple’s chief of security operations has retired, but not of his own free will, according to a source with knowledge of the events. Instead, John Theriault, a former FBI agent who came to Apple from Pfizer in 2007, was forced out, after a series of embarrassing incidents.
Theriault had spent a decade as chief of security at Pfizer before moving to Apple. He reported to Apple’s chief legal counsel Bruce Sewell, who reported directly to then-CEO Steve Jobs and now presumably reports to current-CEO Tim Cook.
Among the incidents that may — or may not — we’ll never really know — have led to Theriault’s dismissal were two in 2010: first, the lost iPhone 4 incident from March of 2010, where an Apple employee lost a prototype device in a Peninsula bar. It was found and later sold by two men to the tech blog Gizmodo, which published details about the device.
In October of this year, Brian Hogan, who found the prototype, and Robert Sage Wallower, who helped him sell the device to Gizmodo, pleaded no contest to charges in the case, and received sentences of one year of probation, 40 hours of community service, and a payment of $250 in restitution to Apple.
In August of 2010, Paul Shin Devine, an Apple global supply manager, was arrested for accepting kickbacks worth over $1 million from half a dozen unnamed Asian suppliers. He was indicted on 23 counts of wire fraud, money laundering and kickbacks, and eventually pleaded guilty.
The latest FUBAR, and perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back, was the case of the lost iPhone 4S. Indeed, for the second year in a row, a prototype was lost in a bar, this time in San Francisco (you might wonder why the employees who seem to be unable to hold their liquor — and their prototypes — aren’t fired, but wait …).
Losing the iPhone 4S prototype was just the start of the FUBAR. Eventually, an Apple security team went to the San Francisco Police Department, saying they had tracked the phone electronically to a residence. The SFPD accompanied the two-person security team to the home of Sergio Calderon, 22, who acknowledged being at the Cava22 bar on the night the prototype was lost, but denied any knowledge of the device.
Calderon said the SFPD flashed badges and told him that if he didn’t voluntarily submit to a search sans warrant, a search warrant would be obtained. He agreed to the search, but David Monroe, an attorney that Calderon has retained since the incident, said that Calderon would not have done so had he known the search would be conducted by Apple employees.
That’s right, the SFPD did not perform the search, but instead Apple’s security team did. In fact, the SFPD has stated that its officers never entered Calderon’s residence. The search failed to find the prototype.
Monroe said previously that he, his client, and Apple are in negotiations, but Monroe has not detailed what exactly that means. He also said previously if he didn’t get satisfactory answers from the police and Apple about the incident he would file suit for his client.
It seems to us, however, that forcing Theriault out may have been the wrong move. Instead, the company might be best served by not allowing its employees to drink and carry prototypes.