Ah, the illustrious Apple rumor mill. It seems like every time the Cupertino company is expected to (even when they’re not) announce a new product, the entire web is buzzing with the latest Apple gossip.

Typically, we disregard the articles with titles that begin with “analyst claims.” It seems like everyone and their dog has their own “source” inside Apple’s never-ending supply chain.

But every once in a while, the tipster is legitimate. Why doesn’t it happen very often? Because the people that really do give away information regarding Apple’s secret projects go to jail…

The New York Times is reporting that a former Flextronics executive has pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of security fraud. The charges are related to his role in leaking insider information on Apple products.

Flextronics manufactures chargers for Apple’s iPhone, so Walter Shimoon had access to all kinds of data regarding the devices. He knew actual sales numbers, and forecasts, sometimes months before they went public.

As an executive, he was also granted access to details concerning Apple’s upcoming products. He then passed the information along to the folks at Primary Global Research, who would spread the word to investors.

“They [Apple] have a code name for something new … It’s … It’s totally … It’s a new category altogether… It doesn’t have a camera, what I figured out. So I speculated that it’s probably a reader. … Something like that. Um, let me tell you, it’s a very secretive program … It’s called K, K48. That’s the internal name. So, you can get, at Apple you can get fired for saying K48.” The iPad — code named K48 — was unveiled four months later.”

He also leaked info about the iPhone 4,

“Apple, he told his contact, was “coming out next year” with a new iPhone that’s “gonna have two cameras … It’ll be a neat phone because it’s gonna have a five-megapixel auto-focus camera and it will have a VGA forward-facing videoconferencing camera.” Apple announced the iPhone 4 — with its two cameras — eight months later.”

Walter Shimoon will undoubtedly be facing some jail time for the aforementioned charges. Primary Global Research, where Shimoon worked as a “consultant,” is also facing federal charges for facilitating insider trading.

With an iPhone announcement expected in the next month or 2, and still no hard evidence regarding the new hardware, I’d say Apple has learned from its previous mistakes. They must be keeping their suppliers on a more need-to-know basis.