October 4, 2006 10:54 AM PDT

AG files criminal charges against Dunn, others

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California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed criminal charges Wednesday against Hewlett-Packard's embattled former chairman, Patricia Dunn, and four others involved in HP's spying campaign, according to court records filed in Santa Clara, Calif.

The others charged were Kevin T. Hunsaker, HP's former senior lawyer; Ronald DeLia, a private detective; Joseph DePante, owner of data-brokering company Action Research Group; and Bryan Wagner, a Colorado man believed to have been an employee of Action Research, according to the filing in Santa Clara County Superior Court. (Click here for PDF of filing or here for PDF of supporting documentation.)

Lockyer announces charges

Dunn, who documents show was intimately involved in the investigation, had been notified that the charges would be filed against her, a source close to her told CNET News.com.

The five face four felony charges: fraudulent wire communications, wrongful use of computer data, identity theft and conspiracy to commit those three crimes.

The felony complaint had been expected ever since Lockyer said in a TV interview last month that he had proof crimes were committed in HP's attempt to uncover the source of news leaks within its ranks. The company has acknowledged that as part of its investigation, HP obtained private telephone records belonging to some of those spied on through false pretenses.

Since news of HP's leak hunt came to light early last month, Dunn, Hunsaker and two other HP executives have resigned. The scandal also threatens to undermine the leadership of CEO Mark Hurd, who has admitted to approving some of the methods used by company investigators.

But Hurd has denied knowing about "pretexting," the practice of misleading employees of banks and telephone companies into divulging individuals' private records.

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The felony complaint was first reported in advance of its filing early Wednesday by The New York Times (registration required) and BusinessWeek.

At that point, Hunsaker's attorney, Michael Pancer, told News.com he had not seen any such complaint and declined to comment further. Calls to Lockyer's office were not returned.

If convicted of the four felonies, Dunn and the others accused could be sentenced to between six and nine years in jail, said Jon Pettis, a San Diego-based criminal defense lawyer. He added that none of the statutes involved prohibits probation, which is often given in white collar cases where defendants have no prior criminal history.

Pettis noted that law enforcement agencies are becoming increasingly skilled at computer forensics and prosecuting crimes similar to the ones of which Dunn and the other HP investigators are accused.

"Previously police would have to find the smoking gun," Pettis said. "Those don't exist anymore because people shred their documents now. But most metropolitan police departments have the expertise to find information on a computer's hard drive even if the owner has attempted to erase it."

That is, of course, if the hard drive still exists.

According to a source close to Wagner, who is believed to have gathered many of the telephone records involved in the HP leak hunt, the 29-year-old has already destroyed his computer's hard drive with a hammer. If authorities can prove someone has destroyed evidence in anticipation of a search, then they can charge the person with obstruction of evidence, Pettis said.

The investigation was launched following a series of news stories published in 2005 about HP's former CEO Carly Fiorina and the hiring of Hurd, including information that led Dunn and other HP board members to suspect someone high up in the company was leaking information.

HP had already employed security experts and private investigators for a long time to help protect intellectual property. DeLia, for example, has worked for HP for eight years. And in documents released last week by a congressional subcommittee investigating the probe, he said about half of his business comes from the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company.

The investigation's first phase, which the company called "Kona I," began in the spring of 2005. A second phase, "Kona II," was quickly ramped up last January when News.com quoted an unnamed source in a story about an HP board meeting.

Besides obtaining private records, HP investigators also gained access to Social Security numbers belonging to some of those they spied on, the company has said.

Lockyer has called for a press conference at 4 p.m. PDT. One of the questions he'll likely be asked is whether charges could be forthcoming against others involved in HP's leak probe.

Notably missing from those charged Wednesday were Anthony Gentilucci, the former manager of HP's global investigations and Ann Baskins, the company's former general counsel. Both resigned from the company last month.

In documents supplied to Congress by HP, it was made clear that Gentilucci helped oversee HP's probe and Baskins, too, was kept informed about the company's investigation.

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14 comments

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Going Down
Now the rotten HP leaders are falling. Patricia Dunn's selective memory/innocent act was something I really wasn't buying when she said on her CNET video clip: "In this matter I relied on the expertise of others based on their position with the company. I deeply regret that so many people including me were badly let down by this reliance." Passing the buck just didn't work <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.iwantmyess.com/?p=109" target="_newWindow">http://www.iwantmyess.com/?p=109</a>

A lesson for all Execs and Chairs to remember good corporate governance equals good business. And that email spying on reporters &#38; fellow coworkers will just land you in jail.




[Edited by: admin on Oct 4, 2006 1:29 PM
Note to marileev--please do not post advertisements in your posts signatures. Thanks!]
Posted by marileev (292 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Enough already
marileev,

Some of us are getting tired of you blatantly using these discussions forums to advertise your company's products.
Posted by tonyc666 (15 comments )
Link Flag
nothing wrong
Nothing wrong with email spying and any other kind of surveilance over company property and company employees on company time. Much wrong with fruadulently extracting information from non-company sources.

There is a difference. Just don't do your drug deals on company equipment.
Posted by gggg sssss (2285 comments )
Link Flag
No Excuses
The COB and CEO should not be allowed to plead ignorance (or stupidity) in the commission of crimes. Mr. Hurd either does not have the time to do his job or has exceeded his span of control, when he cannot read reports about the Board of Directors.
HP has long had a policy of imbedding spyware on their computers under the guise of keeping your computer "up to date". Their customers don't seem to care about this (spyware)and they won't stop buying their products either. Spying on their directors, employees and customers, what's the difference?
Posted by lynna1242 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Huh?
Are you saying that H-P has been installing Sony rootkit like spyware on their computers? How can this be legal? If this is true then why hasn't the justice department done something about it?
Posted by GrandpaN1947 (187 comments )
Link Flag
Good! Couldn't Have Happened to a Nicer Bunch!!
Bunch of jerks trying to throw their weight around. Hopefully, those so-called
"detectives" or privacy intrusion experts will be put on notice as well. They are the lowest of the lowest scum on earth.
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Companies need to be able......
So what are companies suppose to let people do?
Just let employee's run all over them, more companies should take note. And maybe do it another way...but they need to get back control
over product leaks and undermining Company board
of Directors. Most of the reporters do not care who they hurt, or what they have to do to get a story. There needs to be some sort of checks and balances.
Posted by zebra148 (38 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Get a grip
These companies do far too much already in regards to their boards.

Besides it seems the boards are always doing things that hurt employees and the working man.

I have no sympathy for any of such boards as most show no sympathy for the common man.

I guess anything is okay to maintain profit.
Posted by Stan Johnson (322 comments )
Link Flag
Enjoy Prison, Scumbags!
So far this is looking like we'll get a happy ending. I, for one, think the appalling ex-chairwoman Dunn will make a model prisoner. I wonder if she'll get tattoes? I love Wagner's buddy narcing on him about busting up his hard drive. With friends like that, who needs enemas? What a bunch of useless idiots.

Next up, all those *****bags who pled the 5th in Congress. Hey, you don't plead the 5th unless you're guilty of something -- am I right or what?
Posted by MikeDson (50 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Alcohol Rehab
Any day now the HP evildoers will claim that they had a longstanding problem with alcohol, did not know what they were doing for the past 2 years, and are immediately checking into rehab at the Mayo clinic.
Posted by maxwis (141 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It was going on before he was in the picture.
It seems this was going on before he was hired but he certainly did nothing to stop it. I doubt he made the decision to go into peoples phone records and he was not curious enough about the whole thing to give it enough thought to stop it before it was even farther out of hand then what it was. That Patricia Dunn does not look like a person to mess with :)
Posted by georgescott (48 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HORRAY! This is GREAT!
Stick it to all these frauds justice! I hope each one goes to jail and that Dunn gets the MAX sentence.
Posted by Stan Johnson (322 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A good thing
If Martha was fried, so should these people. Ankle braclets in the board-room - what a hoot
Posted by gggg sssss (2285 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Company business policy
The standard of business conduct has been violated and the reputation of H-P tainted by their unlawful acts. The company has no choice but to fire them all or risk suit by defendants.


Where does the "Company" stand on this?
Posted by GrandpaN1947 (187 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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