HP investigator likely won’t face Calif. charges

/ Source: The Associated Press

The state is expected to drop criminal charges Monday against a private investigator in the Hewlett-Packard Co. boardroom spying case because he has already pleaded guilty to the same crimes in federal court.

The state attorney general’s office said Friday that Bryan Wagner, 29, of Littleton, Colo., would illegally be placed in “double jeopardy,” or tried again for crimes he has already been convicted of, if the state proceeded with its prosecution.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Monday in Santa Clara County Superior Court, and state prosecutors said they would not oppose a defense motion to dismiss the identity theft, conspiracy, fraud and illegal use of computer data charges against Wagner.

Wagner is one of five people charged in California in connection with HP’s ill-fated surveillance scheme to ferret out the source of boardroom leaks to the media.

Also facing the same felony charges are former HP Chairwoman Patricia Dunn, former HP senior counsel and ethics chief Kevin Hunsaker and two other outside investigators.

The state has offered to drop the felony charges against each defendant in exchange for a guilty plea to a misdemeanor, but so far no one appears to have accepted the offer. Their next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 28 to set preliminary hearing dates.

Wagner is the only one charged so far in the federal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco, which has said its investigation is ongoing.

Wagner pleaded guilty in San Jose federal court earlier this month to identity theft and conspiracy. He admitted to using Social Security numbers to snoop on the private phone records of HP board members, journalists and their family members, and conspiring to distribute that information to others involved in the investigation.

Wagner also agreed to testify for the prosecution.

He is scheduled to be sentenced June 20, and faces a maximum of 5 years in prison on the conspiracy charge and a mandatory minimum of 2 years for the identity theft, but prosecutors could ask the judge for a lighter sentence.