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Archive for Thursday, October 5, 2006

Charges filed in HP spy probe

October 5, 2006

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— Prosecutors filed criminal charges Wednesday against Hewlett-Packard's former chairwoman and four others involved in the corporate spying scandal that has shaken the Silicon Valley tech giant long revered for its ethics and professionalism.

California Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer accused two ousted HP insiders - chairwoman Patricia Dunn and chief ethics officer Kevin Hunsaker - and three outside investigators - Ronald DeLia, Matthew DePante, of Melbourne, Fla., and Bryan Wagner, of Littleton, Colo. - of violating state privacy laws in HP's crusade to root out the source of boardroom leaks.

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.

Lockyer asked the court to issue arrest warrants for those charged. His office said it has arranged for Dunn and Hunsaker to surrender and hopes the out-of-state defendants will voluntarily waive extradition to California.

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.

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 probe.

Dunn, 53, who has survived breast cancer and melanoma, will begin chemotherapy treatments for advanced ovarian cancer on Friday.

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