Private eye pleads guilty in HP case

Bryan Wagner was part of the group that gathered personal information about HP board members and news reporters.

NEW YORK ( -- A private investigator admitted Friday to taking part in a scheme to spy on Hewlett-Packard board members and news reporters, making him the first person to plead guilty in the HP boardroom leak probe case, a federal prosecutor said.

Bryan Wagner, 29, of Littleton, Colorado, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of aggravated identity theft and conspiracy charges in federal court Friday as part of a plea agreement, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney for Northern California Kevin Ryan.

Former Hewlett-Packard Chairman Patricia Dunn

As part of his plea deal, Wagner admitted that he fraudulently used Social Security numbers to collect personal phone records of reporters and Hewlett-Packard officials, prosecutors said.

Wagner was part of a group that gathered personal and confidential information about HP (Charts) board members and personal telephone records of news reporters from CNET, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, according to the statement.

Wagner faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence for the identity theft charge and up to five years for his role in the conspiracy.

Wagner is scheduled to be sentenced June 20, Ryan's office said, adding he was not being held in custody.

The Palo Alto, California-based HP disclosed in September that it spied on board members and journalists. The scandal ultimately led to the dismissal of then-Chairman Patricia Dunn, who allegedly initiated the investigation into the leak, and several other HP employees.

Board member George Keyworth, who eventually was fingered as the source of the leaks, and Thomas Perkins - another board member - also departed the company in protest against the spying tactics.

Last month, HP said it will pay $14.5 million as part of an agreement to settle civil claims related to its controversial leak investigation with the California attorney general's office.

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