January 11, 2007
First Federal Charges Filed in H-P Pretexting Scandal
The first federal charges arising from Hewlett-Packard's internal investigation that involved pretexting to obtain private telephone records were filed against Bryan Wagner, one of the private investigators used by the company. Wagner was also charged in 2005 along with four others, including former H-P chairwoman Patricia Dunn, by the California Attorney General's office for violations of state law. The San Jose Mercury News (here) reports that the federal charges involve conspiracy and identity theft counts, and are contained in a criminal information (available below), not a grand jury indictment. An information usually indicates that the defendant is cooperating and will plead guilty to the charges in the near future. Wagner would certainly be a candidate to cooperate because he is fairly low-level and may be able to provide information about others.
The federal investigation had pretty much dropped off the radar screen after the state charges against the five defendants and H-P's settlement with the California Attorney General that involved a $14.5 million payment. The filing of the information indicates that the federal prosecutors are pushing forward with their own case, and an interesting question is whether any H-P officials who were not charged in the state prosecution, such as the company's former general counsel, are targets in the federal investigation. If Wagner pleads guilty, the hearing may provide some clues on the direction of the case. (ph)
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