Former HP Chairwoman Indicted
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UPDATED: Patricia Dunn, who resigned from Hewlett-Packard last week in the wake of its boardroom leaks investigation scandal, has been indicted by California's Attorney General and faces arrest.
Dunn, the ex-chairwoman of HP who headed the leaks investigation, was indicted along with four others in a criminal felony complaint filed in California's Santa Clara County Superior Court. Also charged were Kevin Hunsaker, former in-house lawyer and ethics chief at HP, Ronald DeLia managing director of Security Outsourcing Solutions (an outside security contractor for HP), Matthew Depante, manager of Florida-based information broker Action Research Group, and Bryan Wagner, a Colorado-based employee of ARG.
Bill Lockyer, the California AG, has asked the court to issue warrants for the arrest of the five defendants and said his office would make arrangements with counsel for Dunn and Hunsaker to have them surrender voluntarily. The others face extradition.
The investigation into boardroom leaks was led by Dunn, who resigned last week from HP. Hunsaker reportedly refused to resign and was fired. At issue was the use of pretexting, the practice of assuming someone else's identity to gain access to their personal telephone records, by investigators hired by HP.
Congress is considering legislation that would make pretexting illegal.
"On behalf of Californians, who cherish privacy so much they enshrined the right in our state Constitution, those who crossed the legal line must be held accountable," Lockyer said in a statement. "That is my duty and I will perform it in a manner that reflets the gravity and importance of this case."
Lockyer, filed four felony counts against all five defendants. The charges, all crimes in California, are:
- Fraudulent wire communications.
- Wrongful use of computer data.
- Identify theft.
- Conspiracy to commit the above crimes.
All four counts carry a maximum prison sentence of three years plus a maximum fine of $10,000 for each of the three underlying felonies.
On the first charge, the complaint alleges the defendants used "false and fraudulent pretenses" to obtain from a phone company confidential information, including billing records, belonging to 12 individuals including HP board members, members of the press and their families.
The State's complaint details how Dunn and Hunsaker knew the outside investigators obtained phone records through false pretense, but facilitated the continued use of those illegal methods.
Hunsaker and the investigators pleaded the Fifth Amendment right defense against self-incrimination and did not testify in a Congressional hearing last week investigating the matter.
Dunn and HP CEO Mark Hurd gave extensive testimony.
In their testimony, Dunn and Hurd claimed not to have known the pretexting method was used until the scandal broke and said they would not have approved it.
HP's investigations of boardroom leaks to various press outlets began last year. Dunn and Hurd testified they didn't know what pretexting was when the investigators filed their first reports.
Outside council Larry Sonsini, partner in the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati law firm HP employed to help with the matter, testified he also was not familiar with the term.
Sonsini initially told former HP general council Ann Baskins that he thought the investigators' tactics were legal. Baskins resigned from HP last week and did not give testimony to Congress, pleading the Fifth Amendment.
But her legal team submitted a letter that said in part: "The senior counsel consulted with an outside counsel and was assured the methods were legal."
The letter also stated: "In hindsight, Ms. Baskins wishes she had more actively inquired about the methods being used and taken steps to halt any that were inconsistent with HP's high ethical standards, such as pretexting," the letter said.
It's been a rough several weeks for Dunn who was scheduled to begin chemotherapy treatment later this week. Dunn, 53, suffered a recurrence of advanced ovarian cancer, according to the Associated Press. It's not known what accommodation the A.G.'s office might make for Dunn.