A Colorado man suspected of surreptitiously obtaining telephone numbers in the Hewlett-Packard Co. leak investigation told an investigator last week that he had destroyed his computer, according to a person familiar with the probe.
The man, identified as Bryan C. Wagner, 29 years old, of Denver, told the investigator he had demolished his computer with a hammer and disposed of it after receiving a tip from a relative that he might be caught up in a criminal probe of the H-P leak case by the California attorney general's office, the person said. "Not erased the hard drive," the person added. "Destroyed it."
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Mr. Wagner did identify the tipster as his uncle, James Rapp, a convicted Colorado data broker who pleaded guilty to charges of trafficking in confidential information in 1999 in an unrelated matter, the person said.
If you're going to destroy evidence in a major investigation, it's probably worthwhile to put a little thought into your excuse before the investigators come a-knockin'. "I was tipped that I might be implicated, so I destroyed the evidence with a hammer" is probably one to avoid. I'm guessing that the powers-that-be aren't going to just give Mr. Wagner a shrug and an "OK then".
Perhaps going forward, Wagner should take his cues from Steve Martin rather than his uncle, the convicted felon:
How many times do we let ourselves get into terrible situations because we don't say "I forgot"? Let's say you're on trial for armed robbery. You say to the judge, "I forgot armed robbery was illegal." Let's suppose he says back to you, "You have committed a foul crime. you have stolen hundreds and thousands of dollars from people at random, and you say, 'I forgot'?" Two simple words: Excuuuuuse me!!"