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HP Operative Pleads Guilty
Plea Bargain Dangled in Front of Others
Jan. 22, 2007 08:15 AM
One of HP's low-level operatives, Bryan Wagner, "a/k/a email@example.com," apparently HP's chief pretexter, has pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.
It could mean seven years in the calaboose and a fine of $500,000. His plea agreement is sealed.
Wagner is the guy who said he destroyed his computer so California's attorney general couldn't get his hands on it. He lives in Colorado and Nebraska and worked on HP's so-called Kona investigations trying to track down press leaks from HP's boardroom at the behest of Florida-based subcontractor Action Research Group (ARG).
The US Attorney charged him last week with wire fraud, illegal sharing and use of social security numbers, accessing a computer without authorization and siphoning off a Wall Street Journal reporter's phone records through an e-mail account set up for the purpose - to wit, firstname.lastname@example.org. Within 48 hours he caved and became the first of the HP Five to plead guilty.
Wagner, 29, as well as the principals of ARG and Security Outsourcing Solutions (SOS), the Boston outfit that hired ARG, are also up on felony charges made by State of California authorities as is former HP chairman and Kona kingpin Patti Dunn and HP's former ethics officer Kevin Hunsaker.
They all pleaded not guilty and are currently supposed to appear in court for a hearing on February 28.
Wagner is cooperating with the authorities reportedly providing evidence. The pressure on the others has now obviously increased and there has been talk of the US Attorney charging them too.
Bloomberg reported Wednesday that the others have been offered the same deal as Wagner. Then the AP - quoting Wagner's lawyer - reported Thursday that California had offered to drop the four felony charges against Dunn, Hunsaker and the two others in exchange for a guilty plea to one misdemeanor charge.
Dunn and Hunsaker didn't seem amenable and it's unclear whether they would still be open to federal charges if they took the California deal.
The state charges against Wagner are expected to be dropped because you can't be prosecuted in state court for an offense you admitted in federal court.
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