A private investigator charged in connection with the HP (Hewlett-Packard) pretexting case is expected to plead guilty today to charges of impersonating a journalist to obtain that reporter's phone records from a telephone company. According to reports in The New York Times, Bryan Wagner will enter the plea when he appears in the US Federal District Court, in San Jose, California.

A call to Wagner's defence counsel, Stephen Naratil, was not returned to IDG staff late last night.

Wagner, of Littleton, Colorado, was charged with aggravated identity theft and conspiracy for his alleged role in the scandal in which HP hired private investigators to trace the source of leaks of board deliberations to news media. Private investigative firms in Massachusetts and Florida, in turn, hired Wagner. He allegedly used false pretenses, a practice called "pretexting", to get phone companies to divulge calling records of reporters, HP board members and others who were targets of HP's investigation.

Wagner is also one of five people facing state felony charges in California in connection with the scandal. No trial dates have been set in any of those cases. Also charged in state court is former HP board Chairman Patricia Dunn and former HP legal counsel Kevin Hunsaker, both of whom were forced from their jobs last fall in the wake of the scandal.

According to Kevin Ryan, the US attorney for the Northern District of California, under the charges filed on Wednesday, Wagner faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy charge, and two years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the charge of aggravated identity theft and aiding and abetting.