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House Subpoenas Two HP Execs

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee issued subpoenas today for two HP executives and a private investigator to appear before Thursday's congressional hearing on HP's pretexting scandal.

Last week, the panel heading up the committee's seven-month investigation into pretexting invited a number of HP executives and the outside firms they hired to sniff out boardroom media leaks to testify.

Kevin Hunsaker, HP's senior counsel, and Anthony Gentilucci, an HP global security manager, declined the request, as did Ron DeLia, a private investigator and the operator of Boston-based Security Outsourcing Solutions.

The subpoenas issued Monday compel the three to testify or face contempt of Congress charges.

The Energy and Commerce subcommittee leading the probe also announced it would hold a second day of hearings on Friday, this one focusing the responsibilities of telephone companies to protect the personal records of consumers.

Agreeing to testify at Thursday's hearing without being subpoenaed were Patricia Dunn, former chairman of HP; Ann Baskins, the company's general counsel; and Fred Adler, an HP computer security investigator.

Larry Sonsini, HP's outside counsel, also agreed to testify. Friday, Chairman and CEO Mark Hurd volunteered to appear before the committee.

"Mark is doing this to be as transparent as possible about current events," Ryan Donovan, an HP spokesman, told internetnews.com last week.

According to widespread media reports, once Dunn signed off on an investigation into media leaks by HP board members, the assignment was given to Gentilucci, who is based in a Boston HP office.

Gentilucci appears to have jobbed out the actual investigating to DeLia and his firm. Eventually private investigator Joe Depante, owner of Action Research Group in Melbourne, Fla., was also brought in on the investigation.

Depante was also asked to testify before the committee.

Both Hurd and Dunn admit they had knowledge of the media leaks investigation. Dunn denies she knew pretexting would be used as part of the probe.

Pretexting is assuming a false identity to obtain personal information about another. Pretexting for financial information is illegal under federal law, but using the technique to obtain personal telephone records is in a legal gray area.

While Hurd, Dunn and the other HP executives can expect some tough questions Thursday from the investigative panel, DeLia and Depante are likely to be put on the hottest seat of all.

As the private investigators doing the actual legwork, lawmakers will surely ask them if they used pretexting to obtain information for HP.

In June, the same investigative panel issued subpoenas to 11 data brokers known to be selling telephone records over the Internet. Panel members wanted to know if the data brokers used pretexting to obtain the records.

"Did you and your company, Worldwide Investigations, obtain and sell consumer cell phone records and other non-public personal information that was obtained through pretext, lies, deceit or impersonation," Kentucky Republican Ed Whitfield asked John Strange of Denver.

"Mr. Chairman, at this time I'd like to invoke my Fifth Amendment right," Strange replied.

The other 10 data brokers also invoked their Fifth Amendment rights.

Witnesses asked to testify at Friday's hearing include Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras and officials from T-Mobile, Cingular Wireless, Nextel and Verizon.