March 14, 2007 10:42 AM PDT

Calif. court drops charges against Dunn

A California judge on Wednesday dismissed the charges against former Hewlett-Packard Chairman Patricia Dunn in the HP spying scandal.

The three other remaining defendants--former HP attorney Kevin Hunsaker; private detective Ronald DeLia; and Matthew DePante of data-brokering company Action Research Group--pleaded no contest to a count of fraudulent wire communications at Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose, Calif., the state attorney general's office said in a statement. The trio will be required to complete 96 hours of community service by September 12; the court said it will dismiss the case against them if that condition is satisfied.

Patricia Dunn Patricia Dunn

Dunn, for her part, did not enter a plea.

"We have maintained from the beginning that Pattie Dunn was innocent and thus vigorously fought the charges against her," said Dunn's attorney, James Brosnahan, of the firm Morrison & Foerster. "Today, the judge dismissed the case. Ms. Dunn did not plead to anything. This is the right result."

Earlier Wednesday, the state attorney general's office had released a statement saying Dunn would, in fact, plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of fraudulent wire communications. Later, it released a subsequent statement calling its earlier prediction mistaken.

"At court today, Patricia Dunn did not enter any plea in response to the misdemeanor count, and the court exercised its discretion by dismissing the case against her," the statement said.

Originally, California charged five people with four felonies, including conspiracy and identity theft. In January, the state dismissed its case against the fifth HP defendant, Bryan Wagner, a Colorado man believed to have been an employee of Action Research, when he pleaded guilty to federal charges relating to his role in HP's internal investigation of boardroom leaks. Under California law, the state cannot prosecute a defendant for conduct that the defendant has already been tried for in another jurisdiction.

The charges were a direct response to the brouhaha last year in which HP executives admitted that outside investigators had used a technique called "pretexting," or posing as someone else to obtain phone records of reporters and board members suspected of involvement in press leaks. Then-board Chairman Dunn, who spearheaded the investigation, said she had been unaware of the technique's use and called it "embarrassing."

Dunn expressed relief following Wednesday's dismissal.

"I am pleased that this matter has been resolved fairly, and want to express my deep gratitude to my husband and family, who never lost faith in me throughout this ordeal," Dunn said in a statement. "I have been strengthened by wonderful support during this difficult time, both from my dear friends and from people I have never met. I have always had faith that the truth would win out, and justice would be served, and it has been."

Former HP board member and venture capitalist Tom Perkins responded quickly to the news. Perkins stepped down from HP's board in May of last year amid differences with Dunn over the leak probe and has lambasted the former chairman for her role in the scandal.

"The attorney general and the court have fashioned a most appropriate resolution of this case," he said in a statement Wednesday. "My thoughts and hopes continue to be with Pattie Dunn in her courageous battle against cancer."

Dunn revealed in October that she was starting chemotherapy to treat ovarian cancer.

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They're just going to get a slap on the wrist? Yes, the government really is clamping down on corporate crime. Way to go. Justice served. Thanks. I guess the consolation prize is a subscription to Martha Stewart Living.
Posted by ballssalty (219 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Poor CNet
This kind of makes me snicker a bit (a lot) because cNet was playing this story up like it was the next Watergate. Besmirched like a scorned lover. So a large part of me is cheering this decision just to get back at the whinnying "Ivory Tower" media "l33ts" at cNet.

Tough luck chaps.

Posted by Mousefinger (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No...Poor Us. Or more so, Poor You
No, more like poor you.

Cnet's articles are information. It is up to us to interpret them.

It is a major issue when the rights we are guaranteed are ignored, and the courts do not carry through the obligation of trial by a jury of their peers. There is also, no authority to invade personal information & privacy.

And so by the original post, the author appears to have missed the next logical question..."Am I sure I won't be next?"

Think about it.
Posted by Joe Koskovics (18 comments )
Link Flag
Poor CNET P2.0
Well, it was like a Watergate, except it was HP with massive trust related behavior issues, that had been a chronic issue for HP for a long time. It remains to be seen, but will probably take at least 10 years to recover brand, if no more big missteps are made. If HP started a 'trust us' campaign in 5 years, it would probably be too soon, or not a very good idea. I guess, HP competitors, are the ones truly snickering at the facts.... :)
Posted by trueview (29 comments )
Link Flag
Why is anyone surprised?
They were contributors to Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer.
Enough said. Democrats will always get a pass by the judiciary
and especially in California!!
Posted by georgiarat (254 comments )
Reply Link Flag
State, Not Federal
We'll see what happens with the Federal charges.
Posted by regulator1956 (577 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And now it begins,...
Lou Dobbs agreed this morning that the u.s. justice system is the most ridiculously messed up festering pile of "uselessness". (paraphrasing lightly)

As the most hated nation on earth it is all for show, all for appearances, no heartfelt spirit of doing right. Where fashion glutton 'celebrities' are the idols of all, sports gods, cinema immortals, and big business - the bosses of it all.

The authors of our own destruction. So be it.

The typically predictable pretense of pretending to parse the party to pass pronouncements on the most guilty comes from a barren, vapid perspective of fairness.

The world shames the us in disgust for supporting this real organized crime.

As a 200 something nation there will be but a footnote in history regarding the american regime - an organization founded soley for skewing perspectives to manipulate wealth.
Posted by Dragon Forge (96 comments )
Reply Link Flag
she was unaware.....
she says she was unaware of the legality of hiring people to spy on one another. a boardmember who deals with corporate counsel? one who can afford a private lawyer or a team of lawyers to consult?

Dunn must be god.. more so than a judge

lets see all the folks in prison released for saying they didnt know their crimes were illegal...
Posted by wone123 (32 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't be surprised
Justice in this country is purchased, not absolute. The caste system
continues its overtaking of America as the rich elite separate
themselves from the people that work for them.
Posted by Lucky Lou (88 comments )
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