Bryan C. Wagner, a Littleton, Colorado-based private investigator, has taken a plea deal in the Hewlett-Packard spying scandal.
Appearing Friday in a San Jose federal court, Wagner pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy and aggravated identity theft, reported Bloomberg.
“He’s just the little guy who was used by these other people who had a lot more knowledge of the conduct he was performing,” Wagner’s attorney, Stephen Naratil, told the Associated Press. “That’s why they didn’t do it. That’s why they passed it off to someone who would do it. It’s a classic case of pass the buck.”
Those “other people,” Naratil also told the AP, assured Wagner “numerous times” that his investigative methods were legal.
According to published accounts, Wagner was accused of secretly obtaining a journalist’s Social Security number, then using it to obtain the journalist’s records from his telephone provider. Wagner also allegedly tried to obtain personal information about HP directors and employees to determine who was passing on boardroom leaks.
Revelations of the misconduct last year led to the resignation of Hewlett-Packard executives, including former chairwoman Patricia Dunn and former ethics chief Kevin Hunsaker. In October, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed criminal charges against Dunn, Hunsaker, Wagner, and private investigators Ronald DeLia and Matthew DePante.
Wagner’s plea arrangement specifies that he will cooperate with prosecutors, according to the AP, but it is unclear what testimony he might offer; Naratil reportedly told the wire service that Wagner didn’t even know he was working on behalf of HP.
Wagner faces up to seven years in prison, noted Bloomberg; his sentencing is scheduled for June 20.