A private investigator charged in connection with the HP pretexting case is expected to appear in US Federal District Court Friday and, according to news reports, to plead guilty to charges filed Wednesday.

Bryan Wagner is scheduled to appear in a federal courtroom today to plead guilty to a charge of impersonating a journalist in order to obtain that reporter's phone records from a telephone company, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Wagner, 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 US investigative firms, in turn, hired Wagner. He allegedly used false pretences, 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 lawyer for the prosecution, Wagner faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 (£127,621) 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 under the charges filed Wednesday.

A call to Wagner's defence lawyer, Stephen Naratil, was not returned to IDG News Service late Thursday night.