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HP insiders, detectives charged in spy probe

SAN JOSE, Calif. — California’s attorney general filed criminal charges Wednesday against former Hewlett-Packard Co. Chairwoman Patricia Dunn and four others involved in the corporate spying scandal at the computer and printer company.

Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed the charges in Santa Clara County Superior Court naming Dunn, ousted HP chief ethics officer Kevin Hunsaker, private investigator Ronald DeLia, and outside investigators Matthew DePante of Melbourne, Fla. and Bryan Wagner of Littleton, Colo.

They each face four felony counts: use of false or fraudulent pretenses to obtain confidential information from a public utility; unauthorized access to computer data; identity theft; and conspiracy to commit each of those crimes. Each charge carries a fine of up to $10,000 and three years in prison.

HP CEO Mark Hurd is not among those charged, nor was HP’s former General Counsel Ann Baskins, who had some oversight of the company’s investigation of media leaks.

The scandal erupted last month when HP disclosed that detectives it hired to root out a series of boardroom leaks secretly obtained detailed phone logs of directors, employees and journalists. The detectives used a potentially criminal form of subterfuge known as pretexting to masquerade as their targets and trick telephone companies into turning over the records.

“I am innocent of these charges,” DeLia said in a prepared statement he read to The Associated Press. “I’ve been a professional private investigator for more than 30 years. I respect the law and I did not break the law in the HP investigation.”

He refused to elaborate on his statement or take questions.

Dunn — who initiated the investigation — said she didn’t know until after the fact that the detectives went to such extremes to unearth clues about the leaker’s identity. She resigned from HP’s board last month amid the uproar over the spying campaign, which has also prompted the resignation of two other board members.

Dunn, 53, who has survived breast cancer and melanoma, will begin chemotherapy treatments for advanced ovarian cancer on Friday at the University of California, San Francisco, according to a person close to Dunn who asked to remain anonymous because a formal announcement wasn’t planned.

HP said in a statement it is cooperating with Lockyer as well as federal authorities who are also exploring possible criminal charges. The Palo Alto-based company declined further comment.

HP’s stock has largely been immune to the scandal swirling around its board, and Wednesday was no exception. It rose 60 cents, or 1.6 percent, to close at $38.02 on the New York Stock Exchange. Earlier in the day it reached a 52-week high of $38.14.


 

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