SAN JOSE, CALIF. - The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI for the Northern District of California today announced that Bryan C. Wagner, 29, admitted in federal court to using fraud and deceit in collecting personal telephone records of reporters and Hewlett-Packard (HP) officials. In pleading guilty to two felony counts, Wagner admitted today that he was paid as part of a conspiracy that made fraudulent use of social security numbers and other confidential information to obtain the personal phone records of reporters and HP officials, as well as the personal records of these individuals’ family members.
A criminal information was filed on Wednesday charging Wagner with two felony counts. According to the allegations, HP engaged the services of Security Outsourcing Solutions (SOS), a security consulting company located in Boston, Mass., to obtain information used in what has become know as the "Kona I" and "Kona II" investigations. Kona I began in approximately April 2005 and Kona II started in approximately January 2006. According to court documents, one objective of these investigations was to identify potential leaks from HP officials to news reporters. Co-conspirators pursued a number of avenues during the investigations including requesting and obtaining confidential personal information of subjects they targeted, including the board members and journalists noted above. According to the charges, SOS engaged the services of Action Research Group (ARG), located in Melbourne, Fla., who in turn engaged the services of Mr. Wagner to assist with obtaining confidential personal information for the Kona investigations.
Wagner was charged with being a member of a conspiracy which gathered the personal and confidential information of HP board members; news reporters at CNET, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and BusinessWeek; and the family members of these board members and reporters.
Defendant Wagner, of Littleton, Colo., and Omaha, Neb., was charged in participating in a conspiracy wherein conspirators a) targeted HP subjects as potential leaks, b) collected and obtained Social Security numbers of many of the Kona subjects, c) exchanged the confidential personal information with other co-conspirators and others in order to obtain additional information, d) engaged in fraud and deceit by misrepresenting their identity to obtain additional confidential information of the HP Kona subjects, and e) transmitted the confidential personal information to others.
Wagner pleaded guilty today to a charge alleging that conspirators created email accounts to establish online account access for the telephone services of HP Kona subjects. Specifically, Wagner admitted that on March 8, 2006, he established an online telephone service account in the name of a Wall Street Journal reporter and fraudulently used the reporter’s social security number to access the reporter’s personal telephone records.
Wagner was charged on January 10, 2007, with one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of conspiracy to commit the following offenses: a) aggravated identity theft, b) wire fraud, c) unauthorized computer access to information, d) falsely representing an assigned social security number, and e) disclosing and using a social security number. He pleaded guilty today to both counts in a plea agreement that was filed under seal.
The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 371, is five years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 or twice the value of the property involved (whichever is greater), and three years supervised release. The statutory penalty for aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sections 1028A and 2, carries a mandatory minimum two years imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the value of the property involved (whichever is greater), and two years supervised release.
Mr. Wagner’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 20, 2007 at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel. Mr. Wagner is not in custody.
This case is being prosecuted by the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Unit (CHIP) of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California. The CHIP Unit, which is based in the San Jose branch of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, was established in 2000 and was the first federal computer crimes prosecution unit in a U.S. Attorney’s Office. This model has been followed in other offices and there are now about twenty-five CHIP Units in U.S. Attorney’s Offices around the country.
Criminal Division Chief Mark Krotoski is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Lori Gomez and Katherine Huynh. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.
A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can.
Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
Judges’ calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court’s website at www.cand.uscourts.gov.
All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Luke Macaulay at (415) 436-6757 or by email at Luke.Macaulay@usdoj.gov.