Get an iPad, Get Arrested

Get an iPad, Get Arrested

Summary: A college student who failed to return his school-issued iPad after dropping out was arrested by police.


Seton Hill University was one of the first schools to announce (way back in March, before the iPad was available) that it would give iPads to all of its students.

The Pennsylvania school is also the first to have one of its students arrested, after he failed to return his iPad and MacBook after quitting school early.

Freshman Michael Sellers was issued an iPad and 13-inch MacBook with a total value of $1,700 when he started in August, in exchange for an upfront $500 technology fee.

When Sellers left school after a month or two, however, the school asked for the iPad and MacBook back. As a Seton Hill professor explains, the $500 fee didn''t cover the entire cost of the gear - the rest is amortized over the duration of the student's time at Seton Hill.

In other words, "They can take the new computer with them when they graduate, but until then, the laptops are just loaners. All this is clearly spelled out in the school’s promotional materials and the contract the student signs when picking up the equipment.”

Ahh, the fine print, which understandably an 18-year-old might overlook...that led to the police coming to Sellers, who told them he no longer had his iPad and MacBook (did he Craigslist them?).

The punishment still seems a little harsh - why arrest Sellers rather than bill or sue him in small claims court? Unless he was meant to serve as an example.

On the other hand, Seton Hill's sort of lease-to-own arrangement is pretty common in the tech space. It's like when you buy the latest Android smartphone from Verizon for just $199 - the low cost is subsidized by the two-year contract you also sign that guarantees huge profits for the carrier.

Those who upgrade or replace their phones before the two years are up must pay a financial penalty proportional to how long he or she used the phone.

This sort of lease-to-own arrangement appears to be growing in popularity.

Take North Bay Haven Charter Academy in Panama City, Florida. North Bay is deploying iPads to its students. But knowing that many students and parents might have trouble paying for the $600 cost (iPad plus case plus insurance), the school is letting them pay $17 a month or $150 a year until their child graduates.


Are you getting an iPad at school or work via a lease-to-own arrangement? Are you happy with the terms of that arrangement?

Topics: ÜberTech, Hardware, iPad, Mobility, Tablets

Eric Lai

About Eric Lai

I have tracked technology for more than 15 years, as an award-winning journalist and now as in-house thought leader on the mobile enterprise for SAP. Follow me here at ÜberMobile as well as my even less-filtered musings on Twitter @ericylai

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  • Accuracy, Please

    Your headline would be more accurate-- though less readable and less sensational-- if it read, "Get an iPad (and a MacBook), fail to follow the terms of the contract you signed, fail to respond to the certified letter asking for the gear back, fail to respond to personal outreach from the campus chief of police, fail to appear before the judge at a preliminary hearing, get a warrant for your arrest."

    I claim no inside knowledge, nor do I speak on behalf of Seton Hill; nevertheless, my reading of the news report is that the school tried to handle it internally, but the young man did not cooperate, and only then did the school turn to the court system.


    According to the Tribune-Review, "Greensburg District Judge James Albert issued the warrant for Sellers, 18, of Columbus, Ohio, after he failed to appear for a preliminary hearing yesterday on a theft charge."

    Note that it was not the school, but the judge, that issued the warrant, and that months have passed since the former student had been asked to return the equipment.

    Dennis G. Jerz
    Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism
    Seton Hill University
    Dennis G. Jerz
    • RE: Get an iPad, Get Arrested

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  • RE: Get an iPad, Get Arrested

    Hi Dennis - thanks for weighing in...I failed to namecheck you in my piece above. While I understand that the kid is liable for remainder of the iPad and MacBook's value (about $1,500, since he'd already paid about $500?), and appreciate that there were probably efforts to handle this quietly, jailing him for 'theft' still somehow smells off to me. Maybe it's just calling the charge 'theft'.
  • RE: Get an iPad, Get Arrested

    he knew he was supposed to turn both items back in. They don't just hand you $1,700 worth of computer equipment for a $500 security deposit and say here ya go it's all yours no strings attached. And as fast as he quit school after he got the equipment it almost sounds like he enrolled just to get the stuff. Easy to do enroll in college, qualify for federal grants so no money out of his pocket and moat schools let you in as soon as they get the paper from the government saying he qualified. And he apparently most likely sold them for cash asap. If it went down like that I can think of several charges they could add. Theft, defrauding the government(if they sent any money to the college) Obtaining property under false pretense and selling stolen merchandise.

    I bet he knew exactly what he was doing, at least on some parts of it. Colleges Pay BIG bucks for all that equipment plus all the IT equipment and training to support it just for some idiot to steal from them. Damn right they should make an example out of him. He should be forced to pay the rest of the cost plus another grand for their efforts to get them back before they went to court, plus the time and effort they go through to set these machines up for the benefit of the students. I'd say the above fees and a $5,000 dollar fine 2-3 years intense probation, paid for by the student and a couple hundred hours community service should make him rethink his childish behavior and make any other students who have the same kind of thought rethink it real hard.

    It's time we stop treating these ADULTS like they were kids and let them all know what the real world is all about
    • RE: Get an iPad, Get Arrested


      Completely agree. The continual babying of these "adults" is ridiculous and doesn't help them in the long run.
  • What a bunch of baloney, this article is full of beans.

    What a bunch of baloney, this article is full of beans.
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