A private investigator charged in connection with the Hewlett-Packard (HP) pretexting case is expected to appear in U.S. Federal District Court Friday and, according to news reports, to plead guilty to charges filed Wednesday.
Bryan Wagner is scheduled to appear in a federal courtroom in San Jose, Calif., at 11 a.m. local time, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco. There, he is expected to plead guilty to a charge of impersonating a journalist in order to obtain that reporter’s phone records from a telephone company, The New York Times reported Thursday.
A call to Wagner’s defense attorney, Stephen Naratil, was not returned to IDG News Service late Thursday night.
Wagner, of Littleton, Colo., was charged with aggravated identity theft and conspiracy for his alleged role in the scandal in which HP hired private investigators to trace the source of leaks of board deliberations to news media. Private investigative firms in Massachusetts and Florida, in turn, hired Wagner. He allegedly used false pretenses, a practice called “pretexting,” to get phone companies to divulge calling records of reporters, HP board members and others who were targets of HP’s investigation.
Wagner is also one of five people facing state felony charges in California in connection with the scandal. No trial dates have been set in any of those cases. Also charged in state court is former HP board Chairwoman Patricia Dunn and former HP legal counsel Kevin Hunsaker, both of whom were forced from their jobs last fall in the wake of the scandal.
According to Kevin Ryan, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, under the charges filed Wednesday, Wagner faces up to five years in prison and a US$250,000 fine for the conspiracy charge, and two years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the charge of aggravated identity theft and aiding and abetting.
-Robert Mullins, IDG News Service (San Francisco Bureau)
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