Report: Computer in HP case smashed to bits
Man suspected of acquiring phone numbers for company tells investigators that he destroyed his computer before it could be examined.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A Colorado man suspected of surreptitiously obtaining telephone numbers on behalf of Hewlett-Packard told an investigator last week that he had destroyed his computer, according to a published report.
The Wall Street Journal reports that if that is true, the destruction of the computer could be a setback for California authorities who are looking into whether HP's probe of leaks from its boardroom violated any laws.
The newspaper reported that the man, identified as Bryan Wagner, 29, of Denver, told the investigator from the California Attorney General's office he had demolished his computer with a hammer and disposed of it after receiving a tip from a relative that he might be caught up in a criminal probe.
"Not erased the hard drive," a source familiar with the investigation told the Journal. "Destroyed it."
The paper said a spokesman for the California attorney general refused to comment about Wagner, saying only, "Our investigation is continuing."
HP has been caught up in a scandal for the last month after it was revealed that records of phone calls made by company board members, employees and journalists were allegedly obtained under false pretenses by investigators hired by the board in 2005 and 2006 to investigate leaks from the board room.
The revelation forced Patricia Dunn to resign as chairman of HP on Friday, and Dunn and CEO Mark Hurd, the man credited with turning around HP's financial performance and stock price, will both be called to testify before Congress about the probe Thursday.
The California attorney general sought but failed to obtain a warrant in Colorado to search Wagner's Denver home, according to the paper. But an investigator did interview him last week.
Wagner told the investigator that he knew nothing about the HP matter and had no contacts with any HP employees, the paper reported. Wagner did identify the person who tipped him to destroy his computer as his uncle, James Rapp, a convicted Colorado data broker who pleaded guilty to charges of trafficking in confidential information in 1999 in an unrelated matter, according to the report.
The paper said Wagner couldn't be reached for comment and Rapp declined to comment.